DFO rejects Cermaq Canada application to transfer 1.5 million fish

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Too early to say if fish will need to be euthanised.

Cermaq Canada has been denied by authorities a transfer licence that would have allowed it to grow out a final cycle of Atlantic salmon in the Discovery Islands, reports National Observer.

In April, the salmon farmer had applied for a licence to transfer nearly 1.5 million juvenile Atlantic salmon from its Cecil Island fish farm to two saltwater sites in the Discovery Islands, Venture Point and Brent Island.

Bernadette Jordan. PHOTO:@BernadetteJordanNS/Facebook

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan also denied Cermaq’s request to extend its current licences to operate the sites to February 2023, which is beyond the 2022 deadline set by DFO last December.

“The decision to deny Cermaq’s applications regarding fish farms in the Discovery Islands was a very difficult one,” Jordan’s office told the publication.

“It was made after careful consideration of multiple factors, including environmental and socio-economic concerns, as well as input from Indigenous communities and the aquaculture industry,” she added.

Cermaq Canada managing director David Kiemele told the publication that the ban on fish transfers will have social and financial implications for employees and dozens of local, independent suppliers, contractors, businesses, and service providers in the region.

The company said it had an agreement with the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River to allow the smolts in the pens.

“It displays a lack of acknowledgment of the rights of the Wei Wai Kum Nation to make decisions regarding their core territory,” Kiemele said.

Cermaq Canada MD David Kiemele. PHOTO: Cermaq

“This decision is therefore not in line with the Liberal government’s public commitment to reconciliation and hinders the plans to increase shared value for the local communities, which is a primary concern for Cermaq in Canada,” he added.

Talking to Times Colonist, Kiemele said it was too early to say whether the 1.5 million juvenile salmon that now can’t be moved will need to be euthanised.

“The federal government is also sending mixed signals to an industry — deemed as essential during the pandemic — in terms of business certainty, the importance of building a strong and resilient blue economy and supporting coastal communities through economic development and opportunity,” he added.