Canada shifts gear on BC open-net salmon farm phase out: “We are beginning the transition now”

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“I can tell you with certainty, this is not simply us having a consultation to build a plan. We are beginning the transition now. We are going to be utilizing resources now,” said newly appointed minister.

Justin Trudeau’s re-election pledge to phase open-net salmon farms in coastal British Columbia waters to closed containment systems by 2025, rolls on.

In a press release on Friday, the Government of Canada announced that it is committed to “developing and delivering a real and concrete solution for the mandate”.

In 2019, Trudeau’s Liberal Party announced it would kick out the open net industry if elected. But by the beginning of 2020, it appeared that the person tasked with doing so, Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, is claimed that they were responsible for “coming up with a plan” rather than transitioning any particular sites.

That plan now involves that appointing Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North Terry Beech. The department said that Seymour will be engaging with First Nations in B.C., the aquaculture industry, and environmental stakeholders on this “important initiative”.

“The results of these engagements will be presented to the Minister in an interim report this spring, informing her decisions on the way forward,” it wrote.

The Campbell River Mirror reported Beech took a more direct line than Jordan, stressing a sense of urgency to move forward during an online press conference. He did not provide specific dates on when the transition will be achieved.

“I can tell you with certainty, this is not simply us having a consultation to build a plan,” Beech said. “We are beginning the transition now. We are going to be utilising resources now”.

“We know that open-net pen fish farms affect wild stocks. Much of the debate is how much the farms affect those stocks, and what is an acceptable level of risk,” Beech added.

This week, the trade group the BC Salmon Farmer Association put forward an argument that its members could play a major part in the province’s post-COVID economy.

BC is expecting the largest deficit in its history at CAD 12.5 billion. But the association said that the salmon farming industry, and as well those in the technology, manufacturing, and processing sectors, could stimulate CAD 44 billion in new economic output by 2050.