BC salmon farmers to close sites

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AT least ten net pen fish farms in British Columbia are to be voluntarily closed or relocated in an effort to create a migration path for wild salmon.
Described as a ground-breaking agreement, it involves two major companies, Marine Harvest and Cermaq, and the federal and state governments and the First Nations which represents native Canadians.
All the farms are in what is known as the Broughton Archipelago area of British Columbia, where there has been strong opposition to sea farms, particularly from some in the indigenous community.
The closures will take place over the next five years, with four farms due to cease operations next year, two in 2020 and four more in 2022.
The future of a further seven farms will depend on First Nation approval and on being granted Department of Fisheries licences.
Diane Morrison, managing director of Marine Harvest in Canada, said the province was changing and that means businesses had to evolve with those changes. She said it was an important agreement for the company’s 600 employees, their families and their future.
‘Marine Harvest will not be making any changes to staff or contractors because of this agreement, but based on the agreed plan we will be initiating a transition in the Broughton and our operations there will change.’
Marine Harvest said in a press release that the agreement ‘will ensure a viable production area is maintained during the transition period and allow for business adjustments to be made’.
‘There are no changes to employment anticipated at this time,’ it added.
John Horgan, the Prime Minister of British Columbia, said it was very important to maintain public confidence in the aquaculture industry.
The agreement included a plan for oversight of the operations by First Nations in the area, which then could be used as a template for other industries in the province, he said.
Salmon farmers in British Columbia, who employ many staff from First Nations communities, have endured years of disruption from organised protests, representing wild salmon interests.
Unlike other farm operators in provinces such as Newfoundland, the industry in BC has lacked government support. The BC agriculture minister, Lana Popham, has been an outspoken opponent of salmon farming.
The sector is worth approximately $1.5 billion in revenue and supports more than 6,600 jobs in the province.
Picture: Lana Popham, the BC agriculture minister

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