Letter – Millennials in aquaculture worried about their futures
“The point of this letter is to inform you Prime Minister Trudeau and Team, that we millennials are worried about our futures, and the future of blue economy in BC. We care, we love our oceans, we love protecting wild salmon.”
In making her sudden decision to phase out salmon farming in BC’s Discovery Islands, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, ignored her deputy minister’s recommendations for a more coordinated approach and her own scientists who proved that the fish farms in the area posed less than a minimal risk to wild stocks. The decision, made at the expense of science to appease activists, will impact thousands of livelihoods, especially in Vancouver Island’s coastal communities. Their anger, fear and frustration are being expressed in scores of letters to Minister Jordan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Here is one of them;
Comox, Vancouver Island, BC
“My name is Kaitlin, I am a 24-year-old East Coaster.
I knew from an early age that my passion was caring for our environment and the many beautiful animals our earth has. Growing up on the Atlantic Ocean, the sea runs in my blood. I knew that my purpose in life was to act on this passion, whatever it would take.
I come from a small French community in New Brunswick, and my family never had financial stability, so university seemed to not be an option for me. Against my family’s financial standing, I went to Dalhousie University, Agricultural campus when I was 17 years old and I completed a BSc in Agriculture.
My biggest take home message from school was that food security is so vital to a country, and that Canada has many opportunity and resources to harness food security. I wanted to be a Canadian that not only contributed to this, but became a leader in it one day.
Most of the models of sustainability and technology I studied in school came from B.C. So, when I graduated, I did what most East Coast people dream of doing, and what seldom get the opportunity to do. I moved to Vancouver because I believed this was my best opportunity of finding a job that involved utilizing sustainability to produce food. I knew no one, I had no family or friends, no job lined up and a very small savings.
Searching for jobs in B.C. was a struggle to find a good fit at first. The Blue Economy caught my attention, without prior knowledge or education in aquaculture, it attracted me because its backbone is utilizing sustainable methods and working with the environment to produce a premium product. I read that farmed Atlantic salmon was the worlds #1 most sustainable protein source. So I dived in and applied for Mowi Canada West.
I have now been a Sea Site and Water Quality Technician for almost two years, and I never get tired of saying that it’s one of the best decisions I have made for myself. I moved to Comox Valley from Vancouver to pursue my career. This job has given me friends with some I consider my family, it has given me financial stability when I needed it the most, and it gave me a new home. I love the island, and I really want to build my future here.
With the recent decision to shut down the farms in the Discovery Islands, it has left me puzzled. The years of science and research on the impact of salmon farms on the wild fish were thrown to the side and it seems as though this move was not one for Canadians, not for the people who live on this island. It was a political move.
The economic impact of closing just those 19 farms is devastating. The company I work for and our neighbours have no support here, so we have taken a stand for ourselves through social media. But unfortunately for the individuals who are speaking out, it has been spun to communities that it is just a propaganda strategy and we are “bought” out by these large Norwegian companies. We have been called “rapist of the sea,” and “killers of the wild salmon”. This is so far from what we are.
Despite the harassment I have received personally, the questioning of my integrity, credibility, and employment choices, I am going to continue to stand up for this industry. I believe in its excellence and its leadership in sustainable food production. I know my generation will be the one to see that this industry is carried forward. But for now, I am questioning my decision on moving to the West Coast. I see all of this federal support to the East Coast, my home, but none here. No answers have been given, and months after this decision, we have now only recently been able to have a meeting with Minister Jordan herself.
What should I do? As an educated young woman who contributes to the food supply in her country, the economic viability of her communities, where should I go? Youths, like me, need certainty to plan and build their futures, and there is none of that right now. this industry is the last of its kind on the Island to offer a long career with so many opportunities, avenues, and exciting experiences. What is going to happen to the salmon industry here on the West Coast?
I know this letter won’t bring in all these answers. The point of this letter is to inform you Prime Minister Trudeau and Team, that we millennials are worried about our futures, and the future of blue economy in BC. We care, we love our oceans, we love protecting wild salmon.
Please show us some support, don’t let the public continue to deem us “evil” and contributors to the damage that has occurred of ocean life. Please show up for us, as we have for the rest of our country. Please give us some hope that we should continue on this path.”