Canadian suppliers join fight to save fish farms

Suppliers to the fish farming sector in Canada have formed a new campaigning organisation to lobby against government plans to shut the industry down along part of the Pacific coast.

The Canadian Aquaculture Suppliers Association has been formed to promote the small and medium enterprises that stock and equip Canada’s aquaculture sector.

A federally registered non-profit organisation, the Association will encourage the growth of Canada’s aquacultural sector, advance the role suppliers play in the industry and be an advocate to protect the thousands of jobs aquaculture suppliers provide to Canadian families.

The Association is asking the federal government to support confidence-building measures, such as meaningful and timely salmon farming licence renewals, that will promote job creation and investments in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada.

Moreover, it said, the government should reassess its decision not to renew salmon farm licences in the Discovery Islands, on the west coast. This decision threatens Canadian food security, local jobs and businesses, the Association argued. Joyce Murray, who was appointed as Fisheries Minister after her predecessor Bernadette Jordan failed to win re-election, has said she stands by the Discovery Islands decision.

In British Columbia, 20 percent of all jobs in salmon farming are held by Indigenous peoples, and 80 percent of current production is under agreement with First Nations communities. It is estimated that the federal government’s decision to halt the renewal of the Discovery Islands permits has resulted in some CAN $1.4bn (£820m) in planned national investment being frozen.

“Those who supply our nation’s aquaculture sector directly employ thousands of Canadians, including in communities where jobs are scarce and economic opportunity is limited,” said Ben James, the Association’s president. “Aquaculture represents a great opportunity for Canada on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and for businesses who wish to become part of this sustainable growth industry.”

More than 20,000 Canadians are employed in aquaculture throughout Canada, including in some 250 Indigenous communities, and approximately CAN $5.2bn (£3bn) in annual economic activity is attributed to the industry.

“I’ve been involved in BC’s salmon industry for over 40 years and have witnessed the benefits that aquaculture brings to our people and traditional territories,” said Richard Harry, executive director of the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association, Chief of the Homalco First Nation and owner of a company that provides net cleaning services to a salmon farm. “Aquaculture provides Indigenous Canadians with economic opportunities and well-paying jobs, drastically reducing unemployment in many small, coastal communities. Without aquaculture, and specifically farmed salmon, I know many people who will have difficulties in finding work.”

“Aquaculture is providing much-needed jobs and economic investment here in Newfoundland – in communities where the shutdown of traditional wild fishing industries resulted in large-scale unemployment,” said Cathy Wiseman, business manager at Aqua Sol Enterprises Inc, a company that provides composite tanks and piping to aquaculture producers. “We need to encourage sustainable aquaculture here in the Atlantic provinces as well on the West Coast. As a small business, the industry is helping us grow and provide employment for those in our community.”

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