The Cermaq Semi-Closed Containment System undergoes trials at a salmon farm in Norway. Cermaq Canada is currently conducting trials of the system in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Cermaq Canada)

The Cermaq Semi-Closed Containment System undergoes trials at a salmon farm in Norway. Cermaq Canada is currently conducting trials of the system in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Cermaq Canada)

Young B.C. professionals call on Trudeau for salmon-farm supports

Sector workers say Discovery Islands decision cast their future in doubt

Young professionals in B.C.’s salmon farming sector are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demonstrate his government’s support of the industry.

The BC Salmon Farmers Association Youth Council issued an open letter to Trudeau Feb. 8, saying his government has placed their future in jeopardy and failed coastal communities by ignoring government scientists and bowing to political pressure in its decision to shut down Discovery Islands farms.

“We are scientists, engineers, environmentalists, farmers, veterinarians, certification specialists and much more. We are the engine of salmon aquaculture in rural coastal communities,” the letter reads. “If we believed our industry was harming wild salmon and the surrounding marine environment, we would not be working in it. Science is our foundation, and your own government’s nine years of independent peer-reviewed research suggests farmed and wild salmon can co-exist safely.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s major salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

The 2012 Cohen Commission inquiry into the collapse of Fraser River sockeye recommended the removal of all salmon farms in Discovery Islands by September 2020 if they exceeded minimal risk to wild stocks.

Recent Fisheries and Oceans Canada risk assessments found the impacts were below that critical threshold.

Nonetheless, following three months of consultations with seven area First Nations Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan gave the 19 farms 18 months to wind down their operations by June of 2022.

The decision is having a profound impact on young people who once anticipated long, positive careers in salmon aquaculture.

“Two-thirds of the people working in BC salmon farming are under 35 years old. At a time when securing and protecting the future of young people in Canada is so critical, we find ourselves reeling, stressed, anxious and exhausted – with our future in jeopardy,” the letter reads.

A number of factors are blamed for B.C.’s dwindling salmon populations, including over-fishing, climate change, warming waters, and increased predation. Open-net pens have the potential to act as reservoirs for naturally occurring sea lice and pathogens that transfer to out-migrating juvenile fish, and salmon farm opponents believe this is leading cause of the decline.

READ MORE: Ottawa eyes B.C. coastline for new economic vision

But the youth council argues the sector can be a strong contributor to the objectives of the federal government’s Blue Economy Strategy, which aims to position the country as a global leader in ocean-based economies that create good middle-class jobs while championing healthier oceans and sustainable ocean industries.

“Unfortunately, your actions have eroded the trust we once placed in you to seize British Columbia’s Blue Economy potential,” the youth council wrote.

Jordan launched public consultations on the strategy earlier this week, telling Black Press Media she expects salmon aquaculture to play a big role, but it will not include open-net pens like those in the Discovery Islands. Options are on the table for contained and semi-contained systems, deep ocean pens and land-based systems.

“I’m not going to prejudge the process by saying ‘this is what it has to be,’ because I don’t know,” Jordan said. “We want to hear from people on what they think is the best path forward.”

Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech is leading consultations with the industry on a transition plan.

Read the full letter here.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Camp Barnard during the 2019 Pacific Jamboree. (Photo: Camp Barnard)
Camp Barnard near Sooke hopes fundraiser will help it progress on accessibility goals

I Care ‘Bout Camp challenge hopes to raise $100,000 for new lodge, replaced kitchen

Saanich council recently adopted a 131-step climate action plan expected to cost $2.5-million in the first year of implementation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tensions high as Saanich considers reigniting local area plan review

Majority vote pushes discussion to fall strategic plan check-in

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Oaklands Elementary’s Division 5 Grade 4/5 class posed with Leila Bui (middle), her dad Tuan Bui (crouching to her left) and mom Kairry Nguyen (right) after presenting the family with a cheque for $710 raised by the students during a necklace sale in December 2020. (Photos courtesy Kairry Nguyen)
Victoria students raise funds for girl seriously injured when struck by vehicle in crosswalk

Oaklands Elementary class contributes to purchase of all-terrain wheelchair for Leila Bui

Saanich Fire Department. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Fingers crossed that procedure can give Cole Moore a new lease on life after decade of seizures

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

Most Read