A Responsible Plan for B.C. Salmon Farming

The following letter was recently sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

 

Dear Prime Minister:

We understand that there are important discussions taking place on the future of British Columbia salmon farming.

We want to remind you that your commitment is to develop a “responsible” plan. The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has also said that she is seeking to present a plan that is realistic and achievable. We believe, as we believe that you do as well, that in the midst of an affordability crisis, “responsible” means achieving greater domestic food affordability and security, jobs and the health of Canadian families and communities, including key First Nations partners who choose to have salmon farming in their traditional territories.

British Columbians have clearly said their top issues of concern are access to affordable housing, affordable food and access to doctors — not salmon farming. Any further reduction of Canadian-grown salmon in a supply-constrained global salmon market will increase prices for Canadians for their favourite seafood choice and ensure that the supply is foreign product.

Additional leading concerns of Canadians and British Columbians are jobs, inflation and overall affordability. The B.C. salmon sector has already been reduced by 40 per cent since 2020. Small coastal communities cannot afford any further job reductions. Many of the thousands of jobs dependent on a strong salmon farming sector are in remote locations and in Indigenous communities where there are few other employment opportunities.

Salmon farming is highly regulated in Canada. The sector has achieved a milestone of 100 per cent of remaining farm production under agreement with local rights-holder First Nations whose communities depend on the sustainable future of these farms. This should be recognized and celebrated.

The responsible, realistic and achievable path is to continue to follow peer-reviewed science and improve the management of this sector to drive more investment in technology and innovation with the objective to further reduce any unacceptable risks to wild salmon. Six-year licenses — a single cycle for planning and production — is the minimum signal needed to ensure the sustainability of these farms, and the only path to hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in the badly hurting B.C. economy.

Prime Minister, the world has changed since the original transition commitment in 2019. We have had the global COVID pandemic. We have wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. We have had subsequent serious supply chain dislocations. Another election cycle in the U.S. could produce an uncertain outcome for Canadian trade. And we have the ongoing challenge of climate change.

Your government has committed to a blue economy, to evidence-based decision-making, to Indigenous economic reconciliation and partnership in natural resource industries and to addressing the affordability crisis.

The responsible path must include a vibrant B.C. salmon farming sector.

We urge you to support an immediate renewal of six-year salmon farming licenses for the remaining farms in coastal B.C.

 

Timothy Kennedy
President and CEO
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance

 

Keith Currie
President
Canadian Federation of Agriculture

 

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