Salmon farmers ask for more time, as report calculates Discovery Islands “devastating” decision will wipe out $390 million in annual economic output

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RIAS economic analysis report titled “Canada’s Blue Economy Is Going Backwards”, released by BCSFA, details financial and social consequences of salmon farm phase-out in the province.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) has released the findings of an analysis post-consequences of Minister Jordan’s Discovery Island salmon farm phase-out.

Report
The findings were published by RIAS Inc, an independent economics consulting firm. The BCSFA represents over 60 businesses and organisations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in the area.

The “Canada’s Blue Economy Is Going Backwards” report calculates that left unaltered, the consequences of Minister Jordan Discovery Islands’ decision will be severe. Up to 1,500 jobs are expected to go, with layoffs starting in the first quarter of this year.

Wiped out will be CAD 21.5 million in annual tax revenues, CAD 390 million in annual economic output, and up to 10.7 million juvenile salmon and eggs.

54 months
B.C. salmon farmers are asking for more time, 54 months instead of 18 months, to give everyone with a stake in salmon farming time to develop a plan to minimise the serious impacts. As it stands, more than 24 per-cent of B.C.’s farmed salmon production is set to be shut down.

Ripple effect through the industry and Vancouver Island communities. IMAGE: BCSFA

In terms of transferring, millions of juvenile salmon already in hatcheries and other facilities will have to be destroyed. Salmon farmers are calling on the government to allow them to transfer fish already in their systems to the farms to complete their lifecycle.

RIAS Inc managing director and report author Doug Blair said he found significant concern with the lack of consultation by the Minister, leading Jordan to make a “rushed decision without understanding the implications and seemingly no plan to manage impacts”.

“With only cursory consultation with affected parties, it is unclear how the true impacts of this decision were considered as part of the government’s decision-making process,” Blair said.

“The only way to avoid the severe damages shown in our report would be for the government to revisit this decision and engage in a genuine process of consultation with all parties aimed at finding a better way forward,” he added.

“Heart-wrenching”
“Reading this report when it arrived was heart-wrenching,” said BCSFA Executive Director John Paul Fraser.

“We have been speaking about the impacts of this rushed, ill-considered decision since the day it was made, but this report really captured just how widespread the human and animal welfare impacts will be,” said Fraser.

BCSFA added that the economic ripple effect will be “devastating for rural coastal communities, especially as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery”.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech said that he will be holding virtual roundtable sessions on the future of B.C’s salmon farming transition.

“The transition from open-net pens will make this vital industry more sustainable and more prosperous in the long-term,” said Beech.

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product and the province’s top agricultural export.