During the election it was thrilling, if a bit surreal, to see three major political parties campaign on removing salmon farms. It was only a year and a half ago that I was standing on a fishing boat on a trailer in downtown Courtenay, speaking to about 100 sign-wielding supporters enraged at factory fish farms. At that time, we were trying to get the provincial government’s attention, because they’re responsible for issuing the provincial part of fish farm licences. Shortly after, they made an unprecedented announcement requiring the industry to get First Nations’ consent to operate in their territories. After that success, we refocused our efforts on the federal government who hold the bulk of the power when it comes to fish farms, and prepared ourselves for a long haul.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the many dedicated individuals and organizations, we are finally getting somewhere at the federal level. In the lead-up to the federal election, our supporters alone sent over 5,500 emails to election candidates urging them to remove fish farms from B.C. waters! And the politicians heard us loud and clear. Wild salmon supporters across B.C. and Canada deserve a pat on the back for making the removal of fish farms from coastal waters an election issue. Nice work!
But our job isn’t done. With the election of a minority Liberal government, and the balance of power being held by the NDP, Bloc and Green parties, with the Conservatives in opposition, we need to continue pressuring the federal government to keep their campaign promise to get open-net salmon farms out of B.C. waters by 2025. We also can’t let them forget their promises to implement the Cohen Inquiry recommendations, which call for the removal of fish farms by next September in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River.
This election has provided us with a big opportunity, and we must make sure it isn’t stolen back by the industry’s slick lobbying and PR machine. While industry steps up its advertising and lobbying, we are mobilizing citizens to demand the government follows through on those election promises, supporting First Nations who are fighting the federal government in court and continuing to hold this dirty industry to account. We’ve also rallied partner NGOs to pen a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to restate his commitments in the upcoming mandate letter to the Minister of Fisheries. If we all pull together, we can finally get the salmon farms, and their parasites and viruses, away from our wild fish for good.