‘Salmon farm shutdowns not based on science but on politics’
National agricultural and food associations remind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of his commitment that science and evidence will form the basis of Canada’s policy and regulation
By Fabian Dawson
Several national agricultural and food associations are calling on the government to support salmon farming in Canada, as Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray prepares to present options for the transition of open-net fish farming in British Columbia.
The groups have submitted a joint letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, opposition leaders, various relevant federal ministers and all provincial premiers to support B.C. salmon farmers as an integral and growing part of Canadian food production.
“Government decisions have shut down 40% of salmon farms in B.C. since 2020, making groceries more expensive for Canadian families, increasing carbon emissions and wiping out jobs that are the lifeblood of rural, coastal and Indigenous communities,” the groups said in a joint-media statement.
“These shutdowns were not based on science but on politics and claims by activists that salmon farms are harming wild salmon, which has been proven false through rigorous peer-review science evaluation processes under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans,” the statement said.
“Simply put, we need to grow more food in this country to feed Canadians and the world and continue to grow it better. Grounded in evidence-based policy, it is Canada’s obligation to deliver the best, sustainable, high-quality and affordable food to Canadians, while also growing jobs, driving economic growth and supplying this food to the world.”
Signatories to the joint letter include: Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, Canadian Aquaculture Suppliers Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canada Grains Council, Canadian Meat Council, Canola Council of Canada, Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship, and CropLife Canada.
Today’s joint statement come in the wake of several legal challenges mounted by First Nations, aquaculture service and supply companies and salmon farmers over two ministerial decisions to shut down fish farms in BC’s Discovery Islands.
The original decision to shutter 19 open-net salmon farms in the Discovery Islands was made in 2020 by former Fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan.
Last April, the Federal Court ordered the government to set aside the decision due to procedural breaches by Jordan, and reaffirmed an earlier ruling that all the evidence provided showed “salmon aquaculture in B.C. poses no more than a minimal risk to wild salmon.”
Current Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, who took over Jordan’s portfolio after the last election, then ordered up consultations with the stakeholders to meet the procedural requirements before making the same decision as her predecessor earlier this year.
Both ministers ignored their own scientists, who found in 10 studies that the farms had minimal impact on the wild fish migrating through the area.
Murray is expected to present options for the B.C. salmon farm transition framework to the federal cabinet soon.
Below is an excerpt of the joint-letter’
Canadian salmon farming supports over 14,000 Canadians and their families for jobs and economic livelihoods and produces high-quality and sustainable protein meals to millions of people in Canada and around the world.
Over 3,000 distinct companies supply the salmon farming sector, and its economic activity supports the critical infrastructure of many coastal, Indigenous, rural and urban communities. Canadian salmon feed companies purchase close to $150 million annually from Canadian grain and protein suppliers, supporting a circular economy with the potential for significant value-add growth.
To date, recent government actions have shut down 40% of BC salmon farming production. Your government continues to consider actions that could result in further reductions, despite the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ peer-reviewed science that says there is minimal or negligible effects from salmon farms on wild salmon.
You have said many times that science and evidence will form the basis of policy and regulation under your government, and we remind you of your commitment. Prime Minister, we need to grow more food in this country to feed Canadians and the world and continue to grow it better. Grounded in evidence-based policy, it is Canada’s obligation to deliver the best, sustainable, high-quality and affordable food to Canadians, while also growing jobs, driving economic growth and supplying this food to the world.
We appeal to you to support BC salmon farmers as an integral and growing part of Canadian food production.
(Image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada)
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