The new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is under pressure to quit stalling on the federal government’s plan to phase out open net-pen salmon farms in British Columbia.

A number of conservation and First Nations groups have written to Minister Diane Lebouthillier, worried that Ottawa is wavering on the pledge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made during the 2019 election.

In a letter obtained by the Globe and Mail, the groups called on Lebouthillier to stop approving applications for production increases at the fish farms.

“This leaves us with the incongruous situation in which the industry is investing in expansion as your government consults concerning the transition plan that is supposed to put an end to open-net pen salmon farming,” they wrote in the letter dated Nov. 1.

“We ask that you instruct your department to cease granting approvals for licence amendments and that you issue a statement clearly advising the industry of your intention to honour the promise made to Canadians by your government, that open-net salmon farms will be transitioned out of B.C. waters by 2025.”

When contacted by the Globe and Mail, the minister’s office would not say when a transition plan will be made public or whether production increases for B.C. fish farms would be approved in the meantime.

During the 2019 federal election campaign, Trudeau committed to phasing out open net-pen salmon farms in B.C. by 2025. However in June, the federal government delayed the release of a draft transition plan and said they would continue consultations.

Lebouthillier did not put any minds at ease when she was questioned about the phase-out in the House of Commons late last month.

“We need to continue to have conversations with people working in the field. They are asking for conversations,” she told MPs. “We will continue to work on the transition plan but it will be responsible.”

The industry is fighting hard to force the federal government to reverse course.

Mowi Canada West, a subsidiary of the multibillion Norwegian fish farming giant Mowi, is suing Canadians for lost profits for not renewing licences for their fish farms in the Discovery Islands – a decision Ottawa made to protect wild salmon.

There are still 57 salmon farms in the ocean off the B.C. coast that the Prime Minister promised would be phased out in little more than a year.

Tell the Prime Minister and his new minister to KEEP THE PROMISE to save wild salmon by shutting down dirty fish farms in our oceans!

Tell the feds to keep their promise! | Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Read the Globe and Mail article here.