North Vancouver Island mayors and aquaculture industry experts sent a letter to Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan on Dec. 29, asking about recovery plans for communities affected by the decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms.
Signed by the mayors of Campbell River, Gold River, Port Hardy and Port McNeill, along with the board of directors of BC Salmon Farmers Association, Jordan was asked what the federal government is willing to do to help people affected by the decision.
Jordan announced her decision on Dec. 17 to phase out the nearly 20 fish farms by 2022, after consultations with seven First Nations groups.
Fish farm opponents and wild salmon advocates have long called for the removal of pens from Discovery Islands, citing disruptions and salmon health detriments caused by aquaculture operations along a critical migration route for Fraser River sockeye.
The letter states that the decision to close the farms puts 1,500 jobs at risk and impacts the economic viability of the $1.6-billion salmon farming industry in B.C. It also claims that “responsible farming with a strong regulatory environment does not harm wild salmon.
The four North Island mayors also sent a letter to North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.
Blaney told Black Press Media that she reached out to industry members and mayors in the region, and has heard their concerns.
“The decision made by Minister Jordan … has caused a lot of fear and uncertainty among many in our communities … I look forward to constructive conversations about next steps with them, industry representatives and workers from our communities.”