Media Release: All salmon farms given one-year licence expiry notice: Businesses and conservation groups
Campbell River and Tofino, B.C. – A group of 20 businesses and organizations from across the province issued salmon farm companies MOWI, Cermaq, Creative Salmon and Grieg Seafood a reminder notice of the expiry of all their federal licences in one year.. The groups are suggesting to the federal government that these licences should not be renewed due to new evidence that concludes farms are spreading disease-causing agents to wild salmon. Salmon farm companies recently claimed in court they had little notice in regards to a 2020 decision to remove their operations in a region of British Columbia known as the Discovery Islands.
The four companies hold 109 federal salmon farm licences in total, 106 expire in June 2022, two in August 2022 and one in September 2022. Many of these sites have been licenced continuously for decades.
“By depleting wild salmon stocks and polluting the marine environment, salmon aquaculture is threatening the much larger wild salmon economy on which many rural communities depend.” said Dan Lewis, Executive Director, Clayoquot Action. “In 2022, these licences must not be renewed.”
Recent scientific evidence from this year shows parasites, viruses and bacteria from salmon farms are impacting wild salmon. A recent scientific paper concludes the salmon farming industry likely transported a debilitating virus to B.C. waters and is spreading it to wild salmon.
“When the salmon farming licences in the Discovery Islands expired in December 2020, the Minister of Fisheries prohibited restocking of those sites,” says independent biologist Alexandra Morton. “As a result, young wild salmon migrated to sea this spring through that area unharmed by salmon farms. I joined in this effort to alert British Columbians that this process will repeat for all salmon farms, and thus the potential to protect wild salmon province-wide exists.”
British Columbia is the last jurisdiction on the West Coast that has Atlantic salmon farms, with no definitive plan to remove them all. Salmon farms are banned in California and Alaska, do not exist in Oregon, and Atlantic salmon farms will be prohibited in Washington in 2025.
“Salmon farming is a sunsetting industry, they’re currently being removed in two regions of B.C. and are banned in the northern part of the province,” said Stan Proboszcz, Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “Now is the time to prepare for their complete removal.”
The groups agree an equitable transition for workers and communities is needed, and they look to the federal and provincial governments for leadership on that front over the coming year. Businesses and organizations are invited to add their names to this notice.
Stan Proboszcz, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, 604-314-2713
Alexandra Morton, Independent Scientist, 250-974-7086
Dan Lewis, Clayoquot Action Society, 250-726-8136
Photos are and video available for download here.