Mowi announces closure of BC salmon hatchery

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Mowi has announced the closure of operations at its Dalrymple salmon hatchery in British Columbia, affecting 17 employees.

The Norwegian salmon giant cited the 2020 decision by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans calling for all existing salmon farming facilities in the Discovery Islands to be closed within 18 months. That decision “blindsided”multiple B.C. communities and companies when announced. Since then, Minister of Fisheries, Bernadette Jordan lost recently lost her seat and has been replaced by Joyce Murray.

Read more: Anti-fish farm MP Joyce Murray named Canada’s new minister of fisheries

“The decision of the former minister continues to challenge our company and has lasting implications,” Mowi Canada West Spokesperson Dean Dobrinsky said.

“It is clearly evident her decision is far-reaching, incredibly damaging to the communities where we operate, and could have been mitigated had the ministry engaged with our company to fully understand the impact on coastal communities who depend on this sector.”

Judicial review
Just months after Jordan’s initial announcement, Mowi and other salmon farmers in the area called for leeway on the 18-month deadline in order to avoid culling millions of fish. Mowi Canada West appealed to the Federal Court of Canada, which granted it an injunction in April allowing it to transfer 600,000 smolt to the company’s Phillips Arm farm and 582,000 fish to its Hardwicke farm.

Prior to the approved transfer, Mowi had already culled 900,000 “healthy juvenile fish,” the company said.

Soon after the December 2020 decision, Mowi Canada West submitted an application for judicial review to the Canadian Federal Court. Multiple hearings on the case were held in October, with new information submitted by Mowi Canada West claiming that Jordan made the decision without the input of farms or even other members of the department.

Unaware
“DFO itself was unaware the minister was considering a ban on fish transfers and a prospective refusal of all aquaculture licenses from June 2022 until mere days before the minister’s decision,” said a submission to the court by Mowi Canada West.

Earlier court documents from Mowi’s initial request to transfer smolts also indicate that Jordan “did not concur with the recommendations” made by a memorandum prepared by DFO Deputy Minister Timothy Sargent.

Mowi said in the meantime it has been forced to close its Dalrymple hatchery, affecting 17 employees.