Media Release: Conservationists pleased government has begun salmon farm transition, but impacts on wild salmon will continue until fish farms out

VANCOUVER, B.C.—Government took steps toward keeping their promise to remove open-net pen salmon farms from B.C. waters by 2025, say conservationists. By not renewing the Discovery Island licences and limiting all other salmon farm licences to two years, government has signaled that open-net salmon farming in B.C. is coming to an end. However, this decision does little to protect wild salmon outside the Discovery Islands over the next two years. Wild salmon runs remain at risk until the last salmon farm comes out of the ocean.

Until now status quo salmon farm licence renewals were six-year terms. It takes two years to grow a farm salmon, therefore this decision means that any salmon farms stocked after today may be required to harvest their fish prematurely.

Whether this decision offers immediate relief to wild salmon outside the Discovery Islands will depend on the newly issued farm management rules (i.e., Conditions of Licence) and how they are enforced. They must serve to mitigate the damage that will occur over the next two years by:

  • culling farm salmon to reduce sea lice when companies exceed the sea lice threshold;
  • screening farm salmon for disease agents (e.g., PRV and Tenacibaculum) and prohibiting transfers of infected fish; 
  • mandatory closure of salmon farms breached by sea lions; and
  • prohibiting capture of wild herring by salmon farm industry vessels.

“I am impressed with this decision, it gives me a lot of hope for survival of wild salmon, Says independent biologist Alexandra Morton. ”However, regulatory capture of DFO’s Aquaculture Management and Science Divisions has been verified, therefore independent oversight will be mandatory to ensure the new Conditions of Licence are enforced.”

“If the government wants to eliminate interactions between wild and farmed salmon, land-based technology is the next generation of salmon farming,” says Dan Lewis, Clayoquot Action executive director. “This technology is already up and running—and Canada will be left behind if we experiment with technologies that don’t exist such as in-water closed containment which is an industry fantasy.”

“Not renewing factory fish farms licences in the Discovery Islands is the only way to protect wild salmon from parasites and diseases,” says Stan Proboszcz, Watershed Watch Salmon Society science advisor. “Government needs to finish the job, province-wide, in order to protect wild salmon.”

With salmon so close to the brink of collapse, we will keep working to ensure this transition happens smoothly and swiftly.  

 

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Contact: 

Stan Proboszcz, Science Advisor, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, (604) 314-2713, proboszcz@watershedwatch.ca

Dan Lewis, Executive Director, Clayoquot Action, (250) 726-8136, dan@clayoquotaction.org

 Alexandra Morton, Independent Biologist, (250) 974-7086, alexandramorton5@gmail.com

Video and images link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1dl-VCNLR9F6crxNPY-yfbsD9GEOSZCFb

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