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

Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast said on International Women’s Day March 8, that thousands of frontline superheroes in health, education, childcare, food, and community services who help us daily through the pandemic should be celebrated. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
British Columbia North Coast MLA, Jennifer Rice spoke with The Northern View on Jan. 7, 2021, at a proper social distancing length to explain the goals and focuses in the riding and for the provincial government for the upcoming year. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
International Women’s Day celebrates leadership in 2021

Celebrate the thousands of frontline superheroes … who help daily - North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice

Haida Gwaii man, Keifer Collinson is shown in his audition video for T.V. reality show Big Brother where he promoted the Haida language in the March 3 episode. (Photo: supplied)
Haida man promotes First Nations language on national T.V. show

Haida Gwaii born Keifer Collinson promotes the importance of language preservation on Big Brother

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

Prince Rupert’s Bobby Brown celebrated his 95th birthday milestone on March 5 with family across the country in an online celebration. (Photo: supplied by Jodi Brown)
Prince Rupert man celebrates 95th birthday milestone online

Five generations come together COVID-19 style in Prince Rupert to say “Happy Birthday”

Main door at Cranes Crossing, Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter, on March 5. Northern Health issued a public notice of potential exposure occurring at the shelter between Feb. 22 and 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 Public Exposure Notice issued for Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter

Northern Health said possible exposure between Feb. 22 and 24

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

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

(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

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

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Most Read