THE Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) has condemned as ‘reckless’ a proposal by Canada’s ruling Liberal Party to ban all open net salmon farming in British Columbia by 2025.
The pledge, supported by various political groups in the province, has now been accepted as official future policy by the Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, Canada’s controversial Prime Minister.
Yesterday, the CAIA, together with its regional counterparts, including the BC Salmon Farmers Association and groups on the Atlantic coast, issued a statement rejecting the proposal.
Timothy Kennedy, president and CEO of the CAIA, said: ‘The Liberal platform commitment to moving all salmon production in British Columbia to ‘closed containment by 2025’ is highly irresponsible, with potentially serious and far-reaching negative consequences for Canadian jobs and the environment.
‘This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science, and it will threaten good, middle-class jobs across Canada.’
Kennedy continued: ‘Salmon farming is the most environmentally sustainable large scale farmed animal production in the world. It’s a solution to climate change.
‘British Columbia farm raised salmon production has been recognised as being a global top sustainable performer: the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recognised the provincial production as ‘a good alternative’ last year, the first region so recognised in the world, and the FAIRR Global Index lists BC salmon producers as the top sustainable global producers of animal protein.
‘It is a critical solution to the world’s growing demand for low impact, low carbon emissions, high protein food supply, while alleviating pressure on threatened wild fish stocks.’
He said seafood farming provided 26,000 full-time jobs across Canada. It generated $5.4 billion in economic activity, and salmon farming made up close to 90 per cent of this economic value.
‘This is a young, highly innovative sector that is providing full-time jobs across Canada where these jobs are needed most: in indigenous, remote, and coastal communities,’ he added.
And there was no evidence that BC salmon farms were harming the wild salmon populations.
While pilot projects to grow salmon to full size in closed containment were happening around the world, this work needed to continue in partnership and without any artificial mandates and timelines.
Kennedy pointed out that no other nation had proposed this requirement of their salmon production. If implemented, it would only move local, top quality production to other countries that may not have the high environmental standards Canada already employs.
John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, said the new Liberal campaign promise was shocking, and suggested it ‘knee-caps’ the Liberal government’s own fisheries minister, Jonathan Wilkinson.
‘He just got screwed by his own party,’ Fraser added.
The First Nation population in Canada is divided on fish farming, but most are in favour because it gives them work and income.
Chief John Smith of Tlowitsis First Nation, near Campbell River, said he was shocked to learn the federal Liberal Party had targeted British Columbia’s fish farming industry.
So far, Trudeau, who became embroiled in a blacking up race row two weeks ago, and Wilkinson have declined to comment on their party’s new policy.
The plan had been collected by Wildfirst, a highly active anti-fish farming group which has committed itself to the removal of salmon farms from the Pacific Coast “as soon as possible”.
Trudeau has been in power since 2015 but with just three weeks to go until the election, his future is looking less certain, according to polls.