Mowi set to close its processing plant in Surrey, BC

Workers at Mowi's Surrey processing plant

Mowi Canada West has announced that it will permanently close its fish processing plant in Surrey, British Columbia, blaming the Canadian Government’s decision to shut down salmon farming in the Discovery Islands region.

Mowi is British Columbia’s largest salmon producer and its 23,000 sq ft processing plant, in the town of Surrey, currently employs around 80 people.

The decision to cancel salmon farming licences in the Discovery Islands was announced by former federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan on 17 December 2020. Although Surrey is outside the region concerned, Mowi says the loss of 30% of its production in BC means the production plant is no longer viable.

A recent economic report commissioned by the BC Salmon Farmers Association found that the companies operating within Surrey that are part of BC’s farm-raised salmon supply chain generate more than $363m in revenues, and create jobs for 1,189 workers earning almost $65m in salaries.

Dean Dobrinsky, spokesperson for Mowi Canada West said: “This is devasting news to the employees and families who have relied on this operation for their livelihood. It is clear that the decision of the former Minister has lasting implications. Her decision is far reaching and continues to be incredibly damaging to the communities where we operate. It has been more than a year and we have yet to hear from either the former Minister or the new Minister, Joyce Murray.”

A legal challenge over the Discovery Islands decision is currently being considered by Canada’s Federal Court.

Rupinder Dadwan, Human Resources Manager at Mowi Canada West commented: “This is what happens when politics overrides science-based evidence. At the beginning of the pandemic we were deemed an essential service providing our country affordable and healthy food, and now we’re forced to close our doors. Our Federal Government doesn’t have to do this – it can choose fairness and engagement over divisiveness and exclusion.”

Anita Huberman, President of the Surrey Board of Trade said that she was “devastated” by the job losses. She also regretted that Canadian production jobs are being moved to the United States.

Mowi said that “until business certainty is restored in British Columbia”, the company will supply its customers’ orders for value-added seafoods through its facilities located in the US.

The Surrey plant is expected to close in late March 2022. Primary processing for all salmon grown by Mowi in BC will continue at its plant in Port Hardy, Canada.

Rupinder Dadwan, HR Manager, Mowi