Discovery Islands: BC salmon farmers mum on next steps, activists vow to continue the fight

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Salmon farmers in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands are still mulling their next steps following a judge’s ruling last week that sets aside a federal decision to phase out salmon farms in that area.

Cermaq Canada told SalmonBusiness that it is in the process of reviewing the decision and discussing internally. It said however that the ruling is “a very welcome decision.”

“It will allow for a future that aligns with our vision of working with like-minded Nations, to re-imagine and re-invigorate vibrant, profitable and socially beneficial salmon farming operations in coastal British Columbia. We will need time to review the details of the decision with our lawyers and discuss internally before we can comment further,” the company spokesperson told SalmonBusiness.

Grieg Seafood BC also said it is also still working to “fully understand the decision.” It confirmed that it had one farm in the Discovery Islands and the farm has been decommissioned.

Mowi Canada West, which owns most of the farms in the Discovery Islands, did not comment.

The combined production of the three producers on the island account for a quarter of farmed salmon produced in the province.

Anti-salmon farming groups see the federal court’s decision as a “minor setback.” They and some Aboriginal peoples opposed to salmon farming vow to push to make sure current Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray stays the course in getting salmon farms out of the ocean.

“The aquaculture licences issued for the Discovery Islands expire in June 2022. Nothing in this Federal Court decision prevents the Minister from refusing to issue new licenses for the Discovery Islands again provided she does so through a transparent decision-making process and with clear written reasons for her decision,” said Ecojustice lawyer, Margot Venton.