“What I love to do would cease to exist”: Fish farm worker in B.C. issues plea over plan to end open-pen farming

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Sorin Hamm, who works as a sea site technician for Mowi-owned fish farms in British Columbia, in Canada, calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to come and see what work she does, and not to believe those who are against fish farms. 

Trudeau wants to transition from open net-pen salmon to closed containement in just over five years. PHOTO: 2017 Canada Summer Games/Wikipedia

Earlier this month, in the Liberal Party’s 2019 manifesto, Mr Trudeau announced that he would end open-pen salmon farming along the West coast and move to a system of closed containment by 2025.

It said on page 36: “In British Columbia, we will work with the province to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.”

The policy was slammed by local fish farming groups, who branded it ‘careless’ and ‘destructive’.

And now, a worker has accused Mr Trudeau of ‘caving to public scrutiny’ in a heartfelt plea to Salmon Business.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers’ Association estimates that 7,000 jobs would be affected if the move to end open-net pen salmon farming went ahead. Many jobs could end up going East or to countries such as Chile.

Sorin Hamm, who’s 26 and has worked on Mowi-owned fish farms for more than three years, said her career as she currently knows it ‘would be over’.

Ms Hamm, who lives in the Comox Valley, told Salmon Business: “My career as I know it would be over. Sure, there would be a job on land, but what I love to do would cease to exist.”

“The lifestyle that we enjoy out at sea would be gone. I also can’t see production being as plentiful on land for environmental and cost reasons so those jobs would be few, and the wild stocks would have to make up for the lost product on the international market.”

The mother-of-one, who is expecting another baby any day now, told Salmon Business she wants Mr Trudeau to ‘take a tour of a sea site, ask questions and observe’. She said: “I would ask that they take a tour of a sea site, ask questions, observe, and then discuss the scientific findings of real scientists.”

“This, instead of just caving to public scrutiny, which is based on fear and doubt, and the unknown presented by people claiming to be versed in science. I would like to have Mr. Trudeau observe my live fish checks and see the gentle but thorough examination of the stock for health and lice, it’s not uncommon for a fish to have not a single louse despite them being so plentiful in nature regardless of farm sites.”

“To see the attention to detail up close, the wall of binders logging extensive daily, weekly, monthly, and annual protocols. I think really seeing what we do would open people’s eyes to an industry that the public is so misled about. For example, you can see one photo of a fish at the edge of the pen on it’s last legs, damaged from the transfer to the site, and use that to enrage the public.”

“The runts and injured fish don’t get hunted and consumed immediately as they would in nature, they can live a long time with the protection of the pens. You can also show them the other 99.9% of fish in the pen, big, lively, beautiful. Scales shining, gorgeous body condition, thick and healthy. I am so proud of the stock I raise!”