Campbell River city council says it will continue the fight for the aquaculture industry in our area.
Mayor Andy Adams opened the first council meeting of 2021 on Jan. 11 by addressing the announcement by the federal government in mid December, which said no new fish can be introduced to salmon farming facilities in the Discovery Islands and all such facilities must be free of fish by June 30, 2022.
“That has certainly created a stir and some angst,” Adams says, “particularly here on the North Island.”
Adams says that since the announcement, he has been meeting virtually with other mayors of communities that will be impacted by this decision, “working together for the industries, for the staff, for the employees and the residents of the North Island.”
Later in the meeting, council received a series of letters penned by that group of mayors over the holidays, addressed to various representatives at all levels of government.
The letter to Bernadette Jordan, the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, for example, stated, in part, that, “salmon farming is deeply integrated into the fabric of local lives and, as one of the most significant local employers, your decision has the potential to unravel the viability of North Island Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Yet you made this decision without even speaking to the industry nor locally-elected officials who deeply understand B.C.’s salmon farming communities and have a direct interest in your action. Our North Island communities deserve more from you than a hasty and confused process taken without consideration of the widespread impacts to local businesses and communities.”
The mayors’ letter also says that the decision by the federal government makes “locally-elected officials, salmon farmers, seafood processors, technology and transportation suppliers and small business owners” in our region “feel disposable and discarded,” adding, “we will no longer sit on the sidelines and will be pursuing every possible option to remedy this untenable situation.”
Because of the urgency of the situation, however, the mayors could not bring these concerns to their respective councils for discussion before sending the letters off, so Adams asked whether he had the rest of council’s support in continuing this fight.
“During the holiday break there was the question of consent. Understanding that we were not meeting again until today, I took the previously-approved consent of council to join a letter from the North Island mayors as the approval to move forward with these,” Adams says. “Unless I hear objection, that [advocacy] will continue.”
The support from council was unanimous.
“I think this is such an important issue for the North Island, for our region and across Canada,” says Coun. Colleen Evans. “I commend you and the other mayors for standing up on behalf of families, jobs, individuals, the sector, and I know that this is just the beginning of more advocacy efforts.”
“It’s not over yet,” Coun. Charlie Cornfield agrees, “and I get a little concerned reading articles with our MP talking about the plan to mitigate the impacts, as if it’s a fait accompli. I would hope that we’re not giving up on this battle, because the implementation date is 2022,” Cornfield continues. “I’m certainly not willing to roll over and accept a bad decision.”
Councilors Claire Moglove, Kermit Dahl and Ron Kerr also voiced their support.
Adams thanked the rest of council for its support, adding that “the preservation of our wild stocks is of primary importance and the restoration and rehabilitation of our streams and rivers and open ocean waterways is of extreme importance,” mentioning the work of various non-profits like Greenways Land Trust and the Campbell River Salmon Foundation for the work they’ve done to improve, maintain and restore the natural habitat of wild salmon, “but the technology and innovation have demonstrated – proven in the latest edition of the Cohen Report – that the impacts of the farms in the Discovery Islands have minimal impact on migratory salmon.
“There’s no question that in the past couple of decades, some farms were placed in inappropriate areas – in migratory paths – but the industry has evolved … and continues to provide the innovation that will evolve the industry even further,” Adams continues. “And we’re going to continue to advocate not just for the aquaculture industry, but for the Tyee Club, the sports fishery, the commercial fishery and the First Nations fishery, because we strongly believe that they can all thrive and coexist.”