MP Lisa Marie Barron parrots anti-salmon farming agenda for political gain rather than to protect wild Pacific salmon: Letter
By Fabian Dawson
Salmon farmers in British Columbia say MP Lisa Marie Barron can’t handle the facts about aquaculture – a core economic driver for many coastal communities on Vancouver Island.
Instead, the NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, prefers to parrot the science deficit activism against the sector, which is working on a transition plan mandated by the Federal Government.
This plan calls for a responsible blueprint to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.
Barron recently wrote a letter to new Federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier stating: “It is clear these polluting fish farms must be removed from open waters with a timely plan for all those impacted through this transition. To date, coastal communities remain uncertain of what this transition will look like with no plan for those impacted.”
She has refused to acknowledge any traditional knowledge, court rulings and a wealth of federal government science that show the salmon farms pose minimal risks to wild Pacific salmon.
Also missing from her missives is the fact that salmon farming companies have continuously been ranked globally as the most sustainable animal protein producers on the planet.
In a response letter to the MP, Brian Kingzett, executive director BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) said: “Once again, I recommend you do your due diligence and review additional research over and above the messages of anti-salmon farming activists you have been parroting.
“While I have offered to facilitate a farm visit and connect you directly with salmon farmers and the First Nations in whose territories we operate, you have chosen not to engage and learn for yourself.
“Unfortunately, It has become clear that your interest is pushing an anti-salmon farming agenda for political gain rather than to protect wild Pacific salmon.
“By asking for a plan to transition our workers, you are advocating for families – some of which live in your riding – to lose their livelihoods based on your opinion of salmon farming, not facts.
“My previous offer still stands, and on behalf of the thousands of families that rely on our sector, we will continue to ask that you take the time to learn firsthand rather than irresponsibly call for the end of our sector,” Kingzett’s letter stated.
The salmon farming sector in British Columbia is a vital part of the local economy and Canada’s Blue Economy, providing $1.2 billion in annual economic activity and supporting nearly 7,000 jobs in coastal indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
Meanwhile, the District of Port Hardy, has written to Minister Lebouthillier to set the record straight about the anti-salmon farming messaging by another Vancouver Island NDP MP, Rachel Blaney.
“We urge you to carefully consider the messaging from MP Blaney, as they do not reflect the broad spectrum of constituents on the North Island, “said Port Hardy mayor Patricia Corbett-Labatt, in her letter.
It also does not represent the commitment from the Federal and Provincial Governments to work towards a sustainable economic outcome for the fish farming sector, she said.
Blaney, and her husband have been key players in the activist movement to oust salmon farmers from BC oceans, which will kill thousands of jobs.
Blaney in her letter called, “for a plan to transition workers in our communities,” suggesting the removal of salmon farms, leading to further job and economic losses on Vancouver Island.
Mayor Corbett-Labatt said it is crucial to consider the long-term consequences for Port Hardy and neighbouring communities, many of whom are First Nations, if the salmon farming sector is compelled to be entirely removed from the ocean environment.
“Removing farms will lead to increased poverty in our region, which is already the second highest in BC, and many workers moving elsewhere, devastating our communities,” she said.
The Port Hardy District Council said it is crucial to note that the Federal government has clearly articulated the objective of “working with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.”
“This demonstrates the government’s commitment to engaging in a collaborative and responsible process with the relevant stakeholders to transition the industry rather than immediately removing fish farms,” stated the letter from Port Hardy.
First Nation leaders who support salmon farming and members of the BC Salmon Farmers Association recently met Minister Lebouthillier to discuss the Federal Government’s plan to transition open-net aquaculture operations on Canada’s West Coast.
File image shows NDP MP Lisa Marie Barron