2019 ELECTION ELECTION: North Island-Powell River candidates address fish farms

2019 ELECTION ELECTION: North Island-Powell River candidates address fish farms

“What is your position on the impact of salmon farms on the B.C. coast?”

In an effort to inform the North Island-Powell River riding constituents, we have supplied all candidates with a series of questions.

Each week, we will publish their answers to questions pertinent to this riding.

In this article, the five North Island-Powell River candidates have been asked the following question:

“What is your position on the impact of salmon farms on the B.C. coast and how Fisheries and Oceans Canada is managing that impact?”

(Order of placement was done at random. Order will be rotated in each subsequent article.)



People’s Party of Canada

People’s Party of Canada North Island-Powell River candidate Brian Rundle. Photo supplied.

Like many things in life, salmon farming has been a mixed blessing for the people and environment of North Island – Powell River and for British Columbia in general.

On one hand the salmon-farming industry has provided thousands of much-needed new jobs and many other commercial spinoffs, including on the farms, in processing plants, in local business offices and in other ways such as new research facilities and in spinoffs such as transportation of workers and food pellets. All of that has been a much-needed boon for the regional economy and indeed for Canada as a whole because its products also have become a valuable export, but on the other hand there have been some negative impacts from the salmon farm net pens, perhaps most notably as a new host for sea lice which have proliferated and spread to wild salmon stocks, thus adding some handicaps to the already-threatened wild salmon resource. Other negative impacts have included the spread of plastic wastes, attracting seals and sea lions, and in a few cases some added noise.

The good news is that the salmon farming companies and the federal and provincial governments have been working hard to mitigate those negative impacts, especially sea lice transfers, and to maximize the positives. Benefits are coming from recent agreements to relocate some North Island salmon farms in ways that will improve the environment and also providing new employment and business opportunities.

While it remains to be seen whether on-land fish farms will prove to be economically viable, the net impact of the ocean-based salmon-farming industry overall now is overwhelmingly positive, so as a candidate for the People’s Party of Canada in North Island – Powell River I am pleased to support the continued existence and growth of salmon farming in this riding.



Green Party of Canada

Mark de Bruijn is the Green Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied

There is an alarming and precipitous decline in the returns of many of our wild salmon populations. Increasing ocean acidity and temperatures, caused by climate change, are largely to blame. But the diseases and parasites that proliferate in corporate-industrial fish farms are greatly exacerbating this growing catastrophe.

The Green Party is gravely concerned about this. We recognize two things that must be done immediately. We must act to arrest climate change. And we must change our approach to fisheries to give the ocean its best chance to adapt to the changing conditions.

DFO is presently incapable of providing the leadership needed to achieve these objectives. DFO has two conflicting roles: promoting aquaculture, and protecting wild salmon. These are mutually exclusive– the same agency cannot perform both mandates. Furthermore, our coastal communities and independent fishers have lost control of their fisheries. Licences and quotas can be owned by investors and large corporations, and Canadian fish are often shipped overseas for processing.

To rescue our fishery a Green government would:

• move all fish farms to land-based closed containment systems by 2025, providing financial support to workers during this transition;

• free DFO to focus on research and protection by shifting the promotion of aquaculture to Agriculture Canada;

• change the Fisheries Act to protect independent harvesters and coastal communities;

• fund research to protect and manage endangered species in the face of rapidly changing ecosystems

• ensure fisheries policies are driven by science and not politics, and apply these policies fairly and consistently to all fishers in all three of Canada’s oceans.

Salmon are not only an economic lifeline of our coastal communities. Their intrinsic value runs deeply in the veins of coastal peoples, both indigenous and settler. It is unthinkable that through our negligence they could disappear from our ocean.



Liberal Party of Canada

Peter Schwarzhoff is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

I grew up in Campbell River so I am well aware the salmon whether caught commercially or by sports fisherman have been an important economic driver of our communities for a very long time. For a vastly longer time, salmon have been central to First Nations sustenance and culture. Salmon are sacred. We can’t lose them.

This year Chinook restrictions were very difficult for local commercial and sports fishers. Sometimes we have to take tough actions to prevent an even worse problem. No one wants the tragedy of the loss of the cod fishery on the East coast to be repeated here with our salmon fishery.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is tasked with sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture and working with coastal and Indigenous communities to enable their continued prosperity from fish and seafood.

It’s a difficult mandate to fulfil in a changing climate. Rising ocean temperatures has provided poorer growing conditions in the open ocean while the fresh water environment is impacted by warmer water, flooding and drought.

With wild salmon struggling, but global demand for salmon increasing, it’s not surprising that the salmon farming industry has flourished, employing over 12,000 people in largely rural and coastal communities, and providing over $2.5 Billion in economic value.

The scientists at DFO take all risks to salmon seriously and are extensively monitoring and researching any threat which might be posed by the aquaculture industry. Problems were found and corrected. In collaboration with the province and First Nations, sites have been relocated. Industry has continuously improved their systems with new technologies are constantly being deployed. DFO is satisfied that the risk of these operations is minimal to wild salmon. But they remain vigilant.

Sustainable aquaculture is important to our communities and it is being done safely.



Conservative Party of Canada

Shelley Downey is the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

The salmon farms of today are not the same as the ones I knew in the late ’80s. Through investment and innovation, they have continually improved their practices for the betterment of the environment and the fish they are producing. Salmon farming provides 7,000 jobs and generates revenue of $1.5 billion to the BC economy. There are approximately 150 companies that are tied to the aquaculture industry.

Salmon farms are one of Canada’s most regulated food industries. As the world continues to look for protein, farmed salmon provides a cheap form of protein that is produced in a relatively small area. As we continue to reduce our GHG emissions, it is noteworthy that farmed salmon has a very low carbon footprint (2.2 kg of CO2/Kg) of edible product. Salmon farms provide good non-seasonal jobs. First nations make up about 20% of the workforce and the farms are often located close to their homes.

Conservatives are committed to innovation in the industry. We believe in increasing sustainability and environmental performance of the industry. A recent example of this is the agreement Cermaq and Mowi recently announced with ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations to undertake monitoring and inspection activities.



New Democratic Party

Rachel Blaney is seeking re-election in the North Island-Powell River riding. Photo supplied.

Salmon farming has been a divisive issue in our riding for years. As we see reduced wild salmon returns, I am frustrated by the lack of a comprehensive plan to improve the situation. The health of wild salmon is important for everyone in our region.

I am extremely impressed by the work that has been done by the ‘Namgis, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations in the Broughton. The agreement they have reached with Cermaq and Mowi to oversee salmon farms in their territories is setting a new pathway forward, and it’s great to finally see progress after such a long fight there. Having First Nation communities monitor the fish farms is a significant step in accountability and relationship building. That said this monitoring is work the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have failed to do in the past due to lack of local resources and a conflicting mandate.

I have been advocating for a move from open net pens to closed containment. The work being done in the Broughton has created a framework for Indigenous communities, the industry, and provincial and federal governments to move forward. This step cannot be underestimated. I’m committed to working with them towards a closed containment solution that keeps good jobs in our communities and protects our wild salmon. Our region has the workers, affordable land, expertise and processing that can make us global leaders. I have been calling for the federal government to support the industry in this transition, and to make this one piece of a holistic strategy to protect wild salmon. Salmon are vulnerable to the various effects of climate change, damage to spawning habitat, and to a variety of predators and fisheries. We need a plan to address those issues long-term that includes all stakeholders on the coast.




Glen Staples is running as an independent candidate for North Island-Powell River. Photo supplied

Fish farming has negative effects:

1. Sea lice from fish farms infect young salmon swimming out to sea

2. A disease called PRV can be passed from farmed Atlantic salmon to the wild salmon.

3. The waste from the fish farms pollutes the water.

4. Chemical treatments on farmed fish go into ocean water.

5. Escaped Atlantic salmon from the fish farms may interfere with local fish.

6. Fish farms infringe on space that belongs to all Canadians.

On the other hand fish farming is an industry that employs over 6,000 and brings in over $1 billion in B.C. according to Jeremy Dunn of Marine Harvest. Wild fish populations are in decline worldwide due mainly to overfishing. The popularity of fish has been rapidly increasing due to its known health benefits. Meeting the demand with farmed fish can alleviate the pressure on wild stocks.

A perfect consensus is impossible but, on balance, I am in favour of inland fish farms but not farms on wild salmon migration routes.

Fish farming has become a shared responsibility between three levels of government: federal, provincial and First Nations. The provincial policy from June 20, 2018 seems to be well balanced. One concern is that it leaves the responsibility for determining “that operations will not adversely impact the wild stocks” is left with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) which seems to be slightly imbalanced in favour of the industry.

If elected as MP for North Island-Powell River I will continue to ask for input from my constituents. I don’t know what I don’t know; but I do know that there are many in this riding who know much about this. I will also work with DFO to get input and to insure that they are doing an adequate job.



Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Carla Neal is the North Island-Powell River candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. Photo supplied

The harm caused to wild salmon by open pen fish farms is well documented, as is the failure of the federal government to put the protection of wild salmon and the safety of farmed salmon for human consumption ahead of the interests of the multinational fish farms. For over two decades First Nations have opposed the fish farms in BC coastal waters and for over two decades the federal government has trampled on the their hereditary rights and dismissed the concerns of scientists and others. Protection of wild salmon and prevention of the transmission of disease from farmed salmon has not been taken up by the federal government, which has forced First Nations into the courts to defend their rights.

The Cohen Commission in 2012 made many recommendations after finding the federal government’s protections of wild salmon inadequate. In 2015 Justice Rennie of the Federal Court found that DFO had been unlawfully allowing the salmon farming industry to transfer farmed salmon into marine net pens that are carrying diseases with the potential to ‘severely impact’ the wild fishery at an international level. In 2018 the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development stated that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had not done proper risk assessment for key diseases in farmed salmon, had not sufficiently enforced its Aquaculture Activities Regulations, and “was vulnerable to claims that it prioritized the development of the aquaculture industry over the protection of wild fish.”

What protects the environment is the resistance of the people to the theft and plunder of the land and resources. The wild salmon are being defended by the determination of BC First Nations to uphold their hereditary rights as the keepers of the land against the greed of the fish farm monopolies and their protection by the federal government.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park

The suspect has been remanded in custody until their next court appearance on April 19.

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion spotted in bizarre area of remote Holberg Road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road Monday, April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Port Hardy Minor Hockey logo
Port Hardy Minor Hockey hands out year-end awards

The ‘Outstanding Parent Volunteer Award’ went to Kimberly Hunt and Blair Isaac.

Melissa Milligan is working to build a disc golf course in Port Hardy. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy’s disc golf survey results are in

138 people in total took the survey, with 94 per cent voting yes.

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Most Read