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More salmon farm closures mean further obstacles to transition: B.C. Salmon Farmers Association

BCFSA says businesses supporting industry will “scramble to survive”
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A fish farm in Laich-Kwil-Tach territory. First nations elected Chief says that the judicial review of the DFO’s decision to shutter farms in the Discovery Islands territory could have economic impacts for his people. Photo Courtesy Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship A fish farm in Laich-Kwil-Tach territory. First nations elected Chief says that the judicial review of the DFO’s decision to shutter farms in the Discovery Islands territory could have economic impacts for his people. File Photo Courtesy Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship

B.C. salmon farmers has faced an uphill battle in the last few years, especially with the closure of fish farms amongst the Discovery Islands.

Now, the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) is unhappy about news that the Liberal government plans more closures of fish farms in the province.

“The BCSFA learned this week that (federal Fisheries minister) Minister (Joyce) Murray’s proposing the further removal of salmon farms in B.C. after recently closing 40 per of existing farms since 2020,” a May 25 statement from the BCSFA says.

Executive director of the BCSFA, Brian Kingzett says that this decision will not only impact aquaculture, but have a ripple effect on supporters of the industry as well.

READ MORE: ‘Stop closing fish farms in B.C.’; open letter shows aquaculture industry not backing down

“A decision like this will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, trample Indigenous rights, and leave businesses who support this industry scrambling to survive,” said Kingzett. “This is not based on any credible science, including DFO’s own peer-reviewed studies, and is not supported by many First Nations who want to continue salmon farming within their waters.”

Forty per cent of farms province-wide have closed since 2020, causing further polarization among politicians and government as well as coastal communities. In February, the federal government closed the farms amongst the Discovery Islands, with framework for a transition plan to be laid out by June.

Kingzett, as well as members of the Coalition of First Nations for FinFish Stewardship (FNFS) said that the transitional process and consultation has been incredibly flawed.

“Minister Murray has not followed with her own engagement plan, and we have seen constantly-shifting deadlines and goalposts affecting the ability of participants to engage effectively,” said Kingzett. “We have had to deal with constantly changing processes, deliverables and extremely-challenging deadlines. How do you achieve success when the DFO minister keeps changing the rules and timelines?”

A statement from the FNFS says that the deadlines have been a challenge.

“From the start, this engagement process has been rushed, disorganized, unpredictable and challenging,” the statement reads. “The high level of engagement and respect our First Nations were promised by the government has devolved into a lack of trust with the minister, heightened frustration, reduced communication and clarity, and a complete change to the original process.”

FNFS urges the prime minister to intervene immediately within the transition process, saying the current transition process has failed, and hopes to delay a transition plan by a further six months.

“This will ensure this critical decision isn’t rushed by a biased minister who has shown she will not practice meaningful reconciliation,” the letter concludes.

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