British Columbia to lose 4,700 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic activity if salmon farm licences are not reissued

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Province faces $427 million hit to GDP if licences aren’t renewed.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association have released an independent economic analysis outlining the consequences to BC’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous coastal communities if 79 salmon farming licenses are not reissued by the federal government by June 2022.

The report by RIAS found that British Columbia would lose more than 4,700 jobs, $1.2 billion in economic activity annually, and $427 million in GDP if these licences aren’t renewed. An additional $200 million in economic activity and 900 jobs would be lost outside of BC.

Due to expire
Federal aquaculture licences at 79 BC salmon farms are due to expire on June 30, 2022. Eighty per cent of these salmon farms operate in agreement with the First Nations in whose territories they operate in. For these salmon farms to continue producing a sustainable alternative to declining wild salmon stocks, while working with First Nations, their licences must be reissued by the new Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Minister Joyce Murray.

In December 2020, former DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan failed to reissue licences for salmon farms operating in the Discovery Islands, creating economic hardship and uncertainty for many of BC’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous coastal communities.

In making her decision, Jordan is alleged to have ignored the scientific consensus that salmon farms do not pose more than minimal risk to wild Pacific salmon, as well as her own department’s advice. The decision is currently before the courts in the form of a judicial review. If the 79 licences up for renewal are not reissued, Indigenous and non-Indigenous coastal communities will face even greater devastation, warns the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

Communities deserve better
Ruth Salmon, Interim Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association said, “Coastal communities in BC deserve better, especially during an ongoing pandemic that has already caused severe stress, mental health strain, and economic pressure on many families, households and communities.”

“After years of instability and concern, these communities deserve a secure and prosperous future,” she continued.

“We invite Minister Murray to visit the affected rural, coastal communities to better understand the integral role salmon farming plays to the socio-economic wellness of these small towns,” concluded Salmon.

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, the province’s top agricultural export, and generates over $1.6 billion towards the B.C. economy, resulting in thousands of jobs. The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association represents over 60 businesses and organizations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in B.C. Our members account for over 95% of the annual provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon in British Columbia.