Grow out and get out

So, is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) removing fish farms from BC waters by 2025 (ie this year)? Or are they planning to expand the industry, locking the coast in for another 6 years of parasites and pathogens? 

There has been a long battle, led by First Nations, for the protection of wild salmon. This cultural and ecological keystone species continues to be pushed to the brink of extinction by the salmon aquaculture industry.

All licences expire this year, yet industry continues to expand

This year on June 30th, all federal aquaculture licences will expire. The two-year licences granted in 2022 were intended to provide time to develop the plan to transition farms out of the water by 2025.

Meanwhile, nearly all seven of Cermaq’s recent applications to increase infrastructure and tenure size in Clayoquot Sound were approved this February.

Cermaq also has three production increase applications awaiting approval to grow more fish at their farms. At a meeting last fall, federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier assured Clayoquot Action that those production increases would not be granted during the transition process. We shall see…

Two to six-year licence renewals?

In addition to expansion approvals, the DFO plans to renew all the federal licenses, this time proposing two- to six-year terms. Neither option is acceptable—wild salmon don’t have time to wait! The only acceptable option would be maximum one-year licences, to give the companies time to grow out and get out.

Allowing this industry to prolong and expand its operations blatantly undermines the federal government’s commitment to transition by 2025, and the DFO’s obligation to act in the public interest to protect the marine environment.

People want fish farms out

Public opinion is unwavering. 120 First Nations along with 75% of British Columbians want open-net fish farms out of the water. The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is calling on the federal and provincial government to protect wild salmon habitat and fulfill their commitment to phase out fish farms by 2025.

Furthermore, 22 organizations signed a joint statement calling on the Minister of Oceans and Fisheries to stop the expansion of fish farms. And significantly, in December BC Premier David Eby stated that the social licence for fish farms has expired in BC.

Up and down the coast, people are making it clear that in-water fish farms have to go. Fish farms were banned in Washington in 2022, leaving BC as the only jurisdiction allowing fish farms on the west coast of North America.

David Eby – Government of BC December 5, 2023

The fight continues

A better world is possible! The Shíshálh Nation decommissioned all farms in their waters in 2023. Likewise, the Broughton Area First Nations successfully removed 17 fish farms from their waters, and have demonstrated a blueprint for others to follow.

We’re very close, but the fight is not over – wild salmon need your voice now more than ever!

Take Action today

Dan Lewis is the Executive Director of Clayoquot Action. Kaley Vanderluit is the CSI Coordinator.


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