Following a flurry of announcements around fish farm closures earlier this year, summer marked some pushback by the fish farming industry and delays by the federal government.

The prime minister promised to transition open-net pen salmon farms from B.C. by 2025 and the government’s transition plan was to be released this past June. However, at the last minute, the government postponed the release of the plan and extended the consultation period until the end of summer.

With the unscheduled delay and subsequent lack of communication around the new timeline, our best guess is that the plan will now be released sometime near the end of this year.

Credit: Tavish Campbell

We hope this isn’t the case, because DFO has a long history of releasing controversial items right before the winter holiday season when Canadians are preoccupied with buying each other gifts and putting up their Christmas lights. One silver lining is that we have an extended timeline to get the prime minister’s attention and hold him to his promise to get the farms out. Even if you’ve phoned and emailed him already, please do so again. We need to let him know we are relentless and will not let up, no matter how long his government stalls.

Credit: Tavish Campbell

To be fair, this federal government has already gone further than any other to remove factory fish farms. Recall that back in February 2023, the former minister of fisheries, Joyce Murray, doubled down on her decision to keep disease-spreading salmon farms out of the Discovery Islands, despite an unfavourable court decision last year. This took guts like we’ve never seen from any minister of fisheries before. After this second decision by the minister, factory fish farm companies are once again suing her. And once again, Watershed Watch will likely be joining our allies in going to court as intervenors represented by EcoJustice, to fight the companies and defend B.C.’s wild salmon. 

This type of court case is known as a judicial review. In basic terms, the industry is asking the court to review the latest February 2023 decision to keep farms out of the Discovery Islands and determine whether they think the minister’s decision was fair. 

We often hear fish farm companies repeat unproven claims about their contributions to B.C.’s economy. But they never mention that they’re dwarfed by the value of the wild salmon economy which includes recreational and sport fishing and the wilderness tourism industry, as well as the ecological value wild salmon bring to our province.

Factory fish farm fat cats also never talk about the costs of their dirty industry. These continued court cases against our government likely cost taxpayers buckets of money. Not many people know that Mowi, the world’s largest factory fish farm conglomerate, with a market capitalization of over $12 BILLION Canadian, recently filed another lawsuit against our federal government in the form of a civil suit. They’re trying to sue the fisheries minister for financial damages because the minister cancelled their fish farms in the Discovery Islands. If they win, guess who’s on the hook for the bill? Canadian taxpayers. Of course, we don’t see Mowi publicly advertising this court case. We’re sure they don’t want Canadian taxpayers to know. 

Credit: Tavish Campbell

How has our government and the laws that govern this land allowed international companies such recourse, given the huge body of science indicating that this industry has killed our wild salmon and reduced the abundance of our wild salmon runs? Something is seriously wrong and we hope this case doesn’t have legs. 

Despite these lawsuits, we need to continue supporting and pressuring our federal government to stay the course and continue to remove this destructive industry from our beautiful coast. They’re on the right path, they just need to finish the job. Please take a moment to send a message to the federal government and let them know this. Thanks for your continued efforts!