Industry insiders claim Canada is set to renew British Columbia salmon farming permits

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The Canadian federal government is reportedly preparing to renew British Columbia salmon farming permits for between five to six years after the region’s premier raised concerns directly with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, industry insiders have claimed. 

The 79 fishing licences are set to expire on June 30, with British Columbia Premier John Horgan fearing that failing to renew them will “undermine the economy of dozens of coastal communities.”

Canadian Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray has not yet publicly revealed whether a decision has been reached on the licences, claiming that it “will be made when it needs to be made.” However, the federal government’s transition plan currently would “eliminate many” farming licences.

Industry sources confirmed to SeaWestNews on Friday that they have been told the federal government has chosen to renew salmon farming permits in British Columbia, although it’s not clear if all will be renewed or if some will be phased out. 

Read also: British Columbia premier warns Canadian prime minister transition plan will kill salmon farming jobs

An anti-salmon farm activist, Alexandra Morton, has similarly claimed that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is recommending the renewal of the licences for six years, although she did not provide evidence to back up this statement. 

A recently released report found outlined how British Columbia communities would lose 4,700 jobs and, as much as, $1.2 billion in economic activity per year if all 79 farming licences are not renewed. 

Horgan also claimed that not renewing the licences could be a violation of the rights of Canada’s First Nations, demanding the government make a decision that “fully engages those First Nations most impacted by the decision.”

The federal government in Canada is responsible for issuing the fishing licences, while the provincial government is charged with issuing the tenure. The Canadian government has, so far, closed around a quarter of the salmon farms in British Columbia, refusing to renew licences for 19 sites in the Discovery Islands.

The Discovery Islands was previously identified by the Cohen Commission of causing a bottleneck for wild salmon migration routes, resulting in a recommendation that the fish farms in the area should be removed unless the fisheries minister could be satisfied that they posed no more than a minimal risk to wild salmon.

The ministry’s own scientists did find that the farms posed no more than a minimal risk but, despite that advice, the Trudeau government ordered the closure of the farms anyway.