Last Friday, the Government of Canada through its Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard, Joyce Murray, announced its decision not to renew the licenses of fifteen open-net Atlantic salmon aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia. That resolution meant that three of Cermaq Canada's fish farm licenses located in the Klahoose Nation and Laich Kwil Tach Nations territories, respectively, were not reissued. The company has told WeAreAquaculture that they are "disappointed and dismayed by this decision which makes no sense".
Although it has not released an official statement as Mowi did after the news broke, Cermaq Canada has assessed for WeAreAquaculture the Government of Canada's decision not to renew aquaculture licenses in the Discovery Islands. "We are reviewing the decision in more detail but are disappointed and dismayed by this decision that makes no sense in a time when food security and jobs matter so much", the salmon company told us.
Following Minister Murray's announcement, the company said on its Twitter profile that, once again, this decision is not based on science and harms so many farming families and small coastal communities. Now Cermaq is putting the emphasis back on its workers. "This decision provides no stability to our company and greatly impacts our employees who have experienced a tumultuous few years, as this latest decision was contemplated over several iterations of flawed engagement attempts by DFO".
Cermaq Group's CEO, Steven Rafferty, expressed his opinion along the same lines on his LinkedIn profile after learning of the resolution. "Minister Joyce Murray and the Canadian Government have taken a decision inconsistent with science, ignores the affected First Nations input to the process, and provides and greatly impacts the employees who have experienced stress and uncertainty from the federal Government's political processes related to salmon farming. It is a flawed and wrong decision. Our colleagues in Canada have worked so hard, and been under an enormous pressure, they will continue to get our total support", he wrote.
Rafferty's statements are also in line with those made last Friday by major industry associations. The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, the BC Salmon Farmers Association, and the Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship said that with this decision, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is ignoring science and First Nations rights and titles, as well as costing rural Canadians jobs and affecting consumers' pocketbooks.
Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation, Cermaq is one of the world's leading producers of sustainable salmon and trout, with operations in Chile, Canada, and Norway. The company supplies salmon to customers in more than 70 countries around the world and employs some 2,800 people, of which between 300 and 350 work full-time, depending on the number of staff required at the processing plant, at Cermaq Canada. It holds 26 salmon farming licenses in British Columbia on both the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island. Besides, it has four hatcheries on the island and a processing plant in Tofino.