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Looming aquaculture plan’s uncertainty ‘unjust and unfair’: B.C. industry

Fish farmers calling for 6-year license renewals to supply more security
An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

A group of aquaculture industry suppliers are appealing to the Prime Minister and cabinet to allow for a six-year salmon farm licence renewal in the salmon farming sector in B.C. and elsewhere.

“We need your help. As businesses engaged in the British Columbia Salmon Farming Sector, we directly employ many hundreds of British Columbians, and indirectly support thousands more,” says the letter signed by 24 business owners and managers in the B.C. salmon farming sector.

In 2019, the federal Liberals made an election commitment that would move fish farms out of the water an onto land-based operations but that commitment “came with no consultation with our employees or the families they support,” the letter says.

Since that time, little to no concrete information has been put forward – leaving an entire sector mired in uncertainty, the letter says. The impact of that uncertainty alone has and continues to negatively impact British Columbians as a whole, the businesses say.

“Those within this food production sector are unable to plan for the future of their families, not knowing if their jobs will exist in the months and years ahead. This is an unjust and unfair situation for the hard-working people of this province. Additionally, the private sector is limited in its ability to invest further in the face of this continued uncertainty.”

The sector has shown a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, they say, and the plan is to accelerate this trajectory to become world leaders over the next decade, if given the opportunity.

“The future that all parties want includes the most progressive and ethical methods of salmon farming. But it’s a future that requires hard work and investment, resources that require a long-term outlook to succeed. Overall, we know that a ‘Responsible BC Salmon Farming’ transition pathway is within our reach. This path can and must support enhanced wild salmon protection, further Indigenous reconciliation, continued innovation, the highest quality home-grown food production, and additional job creation across our province.

“To get there, we need you to provide the certainty needed for further private sector investment. Our people need hope for the future, and certainty that they will be able to provide for their families tomorrow. A single salmon production cycle takes six years from start to finish. We ask that you take the next step with us, and support a minimum six-year license renewal.”

READ MORE: First Nation finfish alliance releases review of pro-salmon-farming science

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Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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