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

Maureen Garry is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Educator of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Former teacher at David Cameron Elementary a tireless advocate for musical education

Maureen Garry is West Shore’s 2021 Educator of the Year

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Camosun Cares hampers will be delivered weekly to students for a period of nine weeks. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
Weekly care hampers offered to Camosun College students in need

The Camosun Cares hamper delivers fresh produce, prepared meals, hygiene products and even recipes

The West Shore Community Response Network (CRN) is urging awareness around National Fraud Prevention Month, so residents can especially help protect older and vulnerable adults against fraud. (Photo by Joshua Hoehne/Upsplash)
March dialed in as National Fraud Prevention Month

West Shore Community Response Network urges citizens to protect seniors against phone, email scams

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
UPDATED: Poster popping up in Island communities falsely claiming COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read