“We’re asking on behalf of our families, our employees and the thousands of others who are impacted…stop the further closure of salmon farms.”
By Fabian Dawson
The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray to rein in her plans to shut down salmon farms in British Columbia and instead come up with a pathway that will preserve Indigenous rights, protect aquaculture jobs and promote the Blue Economy.
Murray, who is ideologically opposed to open-net aquaculture is working on a transition plan for salmon farming in BC, that will impact more than 4,700 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic activity annually.
She was expected to present the transition options, including the closure of more salmon farms to the Federal Cabinet this week, but has now delayed that decision till the fall.
“…We are extending consultation on the open-net pen aquaculture transition to all interested parties through the summer,” the minister’s office said in an emailed statement to SeaWestNews after a media conference this morning organised by the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT).
Surrey is the hub of salmon farming in Metro Vancouver, home to numerous operations in salmon feed milling, fish processing, trucking, packaging, and the provision of goods and services, and is already experiencing negative impacts due to the already 40 per cent reduction in salmon farming production since 2020, said SBOT.
“We have seen the impacts the closures have had on our businesses in Surrey,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO of SBOT.
“Last year Mowi Canada West permanently closed their fish processing plant, which resulted in the loss of 80 direct jobs locally, and this isn’t the only example. There still has been no government action to support these workers,” she said.
“Any further closures of salmon farms will mean the removal of the entire salmon farming sector in BC. The closure of salmon farms does not only impact producing companies but many local businesses on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland as the sector is interconnected, with an extensive supply chain.”
Surrey is set to lose 344 jobs, $220 million in annual revenue, $46 million in GDP and $24 million in annual salaries, stated an independent economic analysis of the potential closures.
“We are calling on the federal government to bring a more rational approach to the transition plan and include other Ministers in providing leadership to developing a reasonable path forward,” said Brian Kingzett, Executive Director, BC Salmon Farmers Association.
Brad Hicks, Director of Taplow Feeds, who has been involved with aquaculture for four decades, accused Minister Murray of propagating the false assumption that removing salmon farms will increase the number of wild salmon.
“There is absolutely no scientific or other evidence to support her thesis that wild salmon will increase by the removal of salmon farms…the human suffering brought on by shutting down these farms will be devastating.”
Hicks said Murray is using the “precautionary approach” as a blunt political instrument to bludgeon coastal communities in British Columbia.
“It is unfounded. It is callous, it is uncaring, and it will not end well.”
Kyran Clarke, Operations Manager of Aquatrans Distributions Inc. a Canadian leader when it comes to the transportation of seafood, said thousands of young people risk losing their jobs with the closure of salmon farms.
“On my team alone there’s 11 other individuals under the age of 30, who are all in jeopardy now of having their careers and their futures erased because of the government,” he said.
“So, we’re asking on behalf of our families, our employees and the thousands of others who are impacted…stop the further closure of salmon farms.”
Meanwhile, the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 said it will be hosting a rally to support the BC salmon farming sector in Campbell River on Thursday, July 1.
The event is being organized to support union members who work at a fish processing facility in Port Hardy, BC, whose jobs are now at risk.
SeaWestNews image (l to r) Kyran Clarke, Operations Manager of Aquatrans Distributions Inc, Brad Hicks, Director of Taplow Feeds, Brian Kingzett, Executive Director, BC Salmon Farmers Association, Joshua Plamondon, CEO of Aqua-Pak, and Anita Huberman, President & CEO of Surrey Board of Trade.