Trudeau won’t close farms, says Mowi boss

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau - his party has plans to close down BC's salmon farming industry

THE re-election of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in yesterday’s elections will not spell the end of net pen farming in British Columbia, according to one of the biggest operators in the region.

Trudeau, whose Liberal Party lost the popular vote but secured enough seats to form a minority government, had announced plans to shut down traditional salmon farms on Canada’s west coast and move the industry to land based tanks.

His party launched its campaign against farming salmon in sea pens in September, with backing from the country’s Green Party.

However, Alf-Helge Aarskog, the CEO of Bergen headquartered Mowi, told Intrafish he was confident Trudeau’s victory yesterday would not affect the company’s operations in BC, where it produces around 45,000 tonnes a year.

‘We work with any government there is and I’m sure when [Trudeau] puts his mind to it, this will not be an issue,’ said Aarskog.

Trudeau will now need the backing of smaller parties to pursue his legislative programme, and Aarskog believes this will lessen the chances of any salmon farming ban succeeding.

‘I’m sure he will realise that farming with net pens is a fairly good for the environment,’ added Aarskog. ‘If the world needs anything, it’s not more red meat. It’s more fish and vegetables.’

Trudeau could seek allies for his minority government among the left-wing NDP (New Democratic Party) – and the smaller Green Party.

Mowi also has farms on Canada’s east coast, operating from New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Mass mortalities at Mowi’s Northern Harvest division on the east coast prompted the local government to suspend the firm’s licences earlier this month.

The fisheries minister of Newfoundland and Labrador, Gerry Byrne, also demanded a face to face meeting with Aarskog, after a reported 2.6 million salmon died, representing half of Northern Harvest’s production.

Mowi blamed the mortalities on warming water, which it describes as the ‘new normal’ due to climate change.