Local government leaders and representatives of the salmon farming industry have written an open letter to Canada’s Fisheries Minister to protest her decision to phase out 19 salmon farms in British Columbia.
The decision to phase out all open-net fish farming in the Discovery islands region over the next 18 months was announced by Bernadette Jordan, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, earlier this month.
The letter, published yesterday, states: “Salmon farming is deeply integrated into the fabric of local lives and, as one of the most significant local employers, your decision has the potential to unravel the viability of North Island Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Yet you made this decision without even speaking to the industry nor locally-elected officials who deeply understand BC’s salmon farming communities and have a direct interest in your action.”
The letter says the decision puts at risk 1,500 jobs supported by the farms, and indirectly threatens the viability of the industry throughout British Columbia.
It goes on: “Like all Canadians and residents of our communities during the pandemic, workers in the salmon farming industry, and local business owners are under severe emotional strain. Now they face the prospect of losing their jobs and their businesses going under.”
And it asks Bernadette Jordan: “What is your plan now to help our communities recover from your decision? What is your government willing to commit at this stage, and beyond, to help us pick up the pieces for the people who live, work and take care of their families here on our coast?”
Announcing the shutdown, the Canadian government said that it had consulted with First Nations representatives in the region, who blame fish farmers for the decline in wild salmon.