Sources indicate that DFO is recommending that expiring salmon farm licences in BC should be renewed for between five and six years.
By Fabian Dawson
The Federal government is being told to renew the soon-to-expire salmon farming permits in British Columbia for a period of between five to six years, say industry sources and an anti-open net aquaculture activist.
The 79 licences which are set to expire June 30, have been in limbo after the government decided to phase out salmon farms in BC’s Discovery Islands as part of a wider pre-election promise to develop a plan by 2025 to transition all open net salmon farms on the west coast.
Trotting out her discredited science again in an open letter to Federal Fisheries Minister, Joyce Murray, anti-salmon farm activist Alexandra Morton, said she has been told that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is recommending that the licences be renewed for six years.
“On March 3, 2022, I met with members of your Aquaculture Management Division (AMD). They said they are recommending 6-year licences be issued to the salmon farming industry when all the BC licences expire this summer,” said Morton in the letter posted on her Facebook site.
A salmon farming executive told SeaWestNews that he has heard that the government will renew the licences for about five years.
“But we don’t know if that is for all 79 licences or what conditions are being attached to that,” he said.
“The previous minister has ignored such science-based recommendations because the Liberals did not want to lose the activist votes…so we don’t know what to expect,” he said.
According to a recently released report, British Columbia’s indigenous and non-Indigenous coastal communities will lose more than 4,700 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic activity annually, if the 79 salmon farming licences are not renewed.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has warned Ottawa that dozens of coastal communities, which rely on aquaculture, face dire economic consequences if it does not renew 79 expiring salmon farming licences.
“Regrettably there is widespread concern in coastal communities that your government is poised to make a decision in coming days that will eliminate many if not all salmon farming licences,” said Horgan, in the letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that was released to SeaWestNews.
“If true, this action would eliminate hundreds of jobs at a stroke and undermine the economy of dozens of coastal communities,” read the letter.
Morton in her open letter is urging Minister Murray to ignore the recommendations to renew the licences, which she claimed was made by Rebecca Reid, DFO’s Director General for the Pacific Region.
“I am writing to ask that you personally make the decision whether to renew salmon farming licences on the BC coast this summer,” said Morton in her letter, reiterating her science-deficit claims against salmon farming in BC.
She also falsely claimed in the letter that there is a mandate to the Fisheries Minister issued by the Prime Minister to transition salmon farms by 2025.
She said the six-year renewals, should they be allowed, as being “three years past the mandate issued by the Prime Minister to transition salmon farms by 2025.”
The DFO has clarified several times that the mandate is to come up with a plan to transition open net salmon farms by 2025, not transitioning the marine operations in three years.
Minister Murray said earlier this month in Vancouver that the decision on the expiring licences “will be made when it needs to be made.”
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) said it is looking forward to the June 2022 renewal of BC’s salmon farming licence.
“A minimum six-year renewal will create a science-based policy environment that enables producers and Indigenous communities with salmon farms and aquaculture businesses in their territories to continue to invest in innovative practices that provide economic stability, a path to economic reconciliation and responsible growth of this sustainable sector,” CAIA said in a press statement.
Meanwhile, as BC salmon farmers operate in an era of uncertainty, the New Brunswick government has announced a multi-year strategy to guide the development of the province’s finfish aquaculture sector.
“The aquaculture industry provides food for our tables, contributes to our exports and creates jobs in rural, coastal and Indigenous communities across the province,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson.
“In New Brunswick, salmon aquaculture has been contributing to the economy for more than 40 years and represents more than 90 percent of the finfish sector. Through this strategy and its actions, we will continue to focus on utilizing scientific innovations, particularly as it relates to aquatic animal health and protection of the environment. This benefits everyone.”
The New Brunswick Finfish Aquaculture Growth Strategy 2022-2030 will focus on opportunities that promote sustainable and responsible growth.
(Facebook Image of Rebecca Reid, DFO’s Director General for the Pacific Region addressing a meeting of the Fraser Salmon Management Council)