Skwah elder Eddie Gardner speaks with reporters outside Cheam First Nation where a meeting with PM Justin Trudeau was taking place, near Chilliwack, on June 5, 2018. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Trudeau sets 2025 deadline to remove B.C. fish farms

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

It was just one sentence about removing open-net fish farms from B.C. waters by 2025.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote it in the Dec. 13 mandate letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan.

But that one promise provided a long-awaited positive sign for independent biologist Alexandra Morton, and Skwah First Nation elder Eddie Gardner, who have both been fighting for years to see open-net fish farms moved off the migratory routes of Fraser River wild salmon runs.

The PM’s letter pledges to: “Work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025, and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.”

“It’s very encouraging news,” Gardner said in a phone interview, adding he’ll be firing off a letter of congratulations and thanks to the PM, for following up on a campaign promise, as well as to the Province of B.C. and the new Fisheries Minister.

“This will go a long way toward international efforts to restore our wild salmon and to preserve them for the wild salmon economy, and the biodiversity upon which we all depend,” Gardner said.

READ MORE: Transition plan by B.C. praised

As one of the founders of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance, Gardner has lobbied government, business and the public for years, holding rallies at big box stores to reinforce the idea that open-net fish farming needs to be shifted away from the ocean.

Morton reacted on Twitter with: “Well, finally a glimmer of hope,” and although she envisions a lot of work ahead with the new minister, the PM’s words constitute a “path” to be followed.

An aquaculture representative weighed in as well.

“The Canadian seafood farmers look forward to working with Minister Jordan under her new mandate from the Prime Minister,” said Tim Kennedy, president of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

The ‘High Level Panel’ for a Sustainable Oceans Economy, to which Canada’s PM is a signatory, has posited that “the largest potential carbon reduction gains for food production” are in the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture, he said.

“Our sector is a carbon and sustainable food solution. We are also a great opportunity for Canada’s Indigenous peoples and reconciliation and for good jobs in rural and coastal communities,” Kennedy said.

Aquaculture will figure prominently in the global ‘blue economy’ down the road.

“The announcement of Canada’s first Oceans Strategy is very important and seafood farming will play a critical role,” Kennedy noted. “We look forward to discussions with partners in B.C. to develop a responsible plan for the future of salmon farming in the province.”

READ MORE: Cautionary tale for wild salmon


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP seeks video footage after homeowner interrupts Colwood break and enter

Police were called to 600-block of Stornoway Drive late Sunday

BC Supreme Court tosses out application to stop work on Highlands quarry

Highlands District Community Association will not suffer irreparable harm if work begins, says judge

Victoria council pushes for December byelection

City staff concerned with timeframe and planning needs prior to byelection

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Charity tackling ‘weekend hunger gap’ bracing for tripling of students in need

Backpack Buddies was serving 1,300 students per week in March, by June that number doubled

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Most Read