British Columbia salmon farmers welcome government’s proposed transition discussion framework

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The Department Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada has announced the next step in transitioning from open-net pen aquaculture in British Columbia coastal waters, with the DFO Minister, Joyce Murray, releasing a discussion framework which outlines a proposed vision.

In the next few months, the DFO will hold meetings with indigenous communities, local officials, conservation groups, First Nations, provincial governments, members of the aquaculture industry and the public.

Across three sessions, the DFO will work to shape the formal transition plan, creating a pathway for existing operations, improve transparency, bolster collaborative planning and decision making and attract investment to support alternative technologies, according to the Canadian government.

“We will continue to chart the course forward for aquaculture in British Columbia, one that will support the ecologically sustainable growth of the industry, create jobs, and help keep our waters and marine ecosystems protected,” Murray said.

in order to give the aquaculture industry and government time to develop an effective transition plan, Murray recently announced that aquaculture licences for BC farms outside the Discovery Islands will be renewed for two years.

“As the world’s appetite for high-quality fish and seafood continues to grow, we need to find better and innovative ways to farm fish and protect wild Pacific salmon stocks. A well-developed transition plan is the first step to growing a viable and sustainable industry in British Columbia,” Murray added.

“The BC Salmon Farmers are pleased to read language in the Government of Canada’s proposed transition discussion framework that aligns with our current operational values. While elements of the proposed framework are challenging, given the ambitious timeline set out, we are encouraged that the federal government will rely on reconciliation and peer-reviewed science as a foundation for planning,” BC Salmon Farmers Association’s Michelle Franze said.

“At a time when our local economies continue to be stretched by COVID-19’s ongoing impacts and rising inflation, we are an essential economic driver and well-paid job creator in British Columbia’s coastal communities. We look forward to the opportunity to participate in developing our sector to meet Canada’s Blue Economy growth goals and the world’s demand for healthy, delicious farm-raised seafood,” Franze added.

“We are encouraged to hear DFO intends to listen to First Nations, local, and provincial governments and we will have more to contribute in the days and weeks ahead after reviewing the proposed framework in more detail,” Franze concluded.