Heather Clarke, owner of Poseidon Ocean Systems, which designs and manufactures open-net pens in the ocean, brands the policy, which is to affect British Columbia, “horrible” and says she has had staff members asking her if their jobs are safe.
The reaction comes following a policy announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, where he pledged in his manifesto to end open-net pen salmon farms and replace them with closed-containment pens by 2025.
Yesterday, Salmon Business reported a heartfelt plea by a salmon farm worker who was worried the policy would ‘end her career’ she as she knew it.
But now, speaking to Salmon Business from the Campbell River, in British Columbia, Ms Clarke says she’s now worried about her business.
She said: “I think the announcement caught a lot of people off guard. Myself included. The Liberal government has been working with the industry and indigenous groups, and those who are in opposition to our industry, we’ve been working together and making great strides.”
“It seems this policy came out of nowhere and more or less surprised everyone. As a business owner and someone who is dependent on this industry, I was shocked and angered that this type of pandering for voters who are so far removed from the industry, that they genuinely don’t have the facts. They’re kind of willing to believe anyone that they’re willing to talk about.”
She added: “But policies like this I don’t think are attainable because of the timeline on it. The technology isn’t there, if it was there, we’d be seeing more people move to those types of facilities. Any time you can move from unknowns to knowns, businesses would want to move but they haven’t because it’s not feasible.”
Ms Clarke says she doesn’t know the actual impact on her business yet, but she has had “terrified” staff approach her about their jobs.
She said: “We have 25 staff members. They’re engineers, they’re very well-paid individuals. They’re technical jobs. Those types of jobs are few and far between. I know that it’s terrifying for our staff members who are looking to myself and husband for what it means.”
She says she thinks it’s a “horrible” policy which gives legitimacy to the claims of the activists and anti-fish farm campaigners.
She said: “Those in opposition who live in our communities, I don’t think they fully think that part through: how many are employed, what it means for the communities, tax bases etc. In a thriving economy, aquaculture supports the bus services, the coffee shops. So, it’s things like that that start to scribble up when an industry exits.”
“For people working on the farms, where are they going to transition? What industry is going to pick up that amount of workers? They’re definitely skilled, but they’re not doctors. Where are they going to transition to? And what’s that going to mean for the local economy?”
“I would say to Mr Trudeau base your policies on science, stop pandering to voters who are so far removed from industry. Be a leader. Be a leader who actually cares about the environment, food scarcity, and base your leadership on sound science. That’s what the industry has based itself on. We’ve got so many technical people: scientists, vets, engineers, there’s a tremendous amount of people with scientific backgrounds and we wouldn’t all be working in this industry if we thought it was as destructive as some activists make it out to be. I just don’t believe as humans we would do it.”