Salmon farming “convenient scapegoat for decline of wild salmon” in B.C., says Kingzett

Industry leader argues Canadian government fails to tackle pollution and fishing leading to decline of wild salmon populations.
Aerial view of Discovery Islands Passage British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Adobe Stock.
Aerial view of Discovery Islands Passage British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Speaking to CBC News, Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, suggested that salmon farming was being used as a "convenient scapegoat for the decline of wild salmon", saying that other threats such as pollution and fishing have not been tackled by the minister.

"She's not going to shut down commercial fishing. She's not shutting down recreational fishing. She's not making sure that we have less pollutants going into the Strait of Georgia," he argued, speaking to CBC.

Canada's recent decision to close 15 open-net Atlantic salmon farms in British Columbia's Discovery Islands is the latest episode in a long history of bitter debate over whether salmon farming leads to sea lice infections in wild fish populations.

A report released by Canada's DFO in 2022 said that although sea lice infestation in wild salmon has increased in the Discovery Islands since 2013, it found no statistical correlation between sea lice counts in wild and farmed salmon populations.

Despite this, Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said in a statement that the ministry was taking an "enhanced precautionary approach", and that the move was "a difficult, but necessary decision."

A statement released by Murray's Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, said: "Recent science indicates that there is uncertainty with respect to the risks posed by aquaculture farms in the Discovery Islands area to wild Pacific salmon, and to the cumulative effect of any farm-related impacts on this iconic species."

The decision not to renew the salmon farming licences, which has caused dismay in the industry, has been lauded as a positive move by some environmental campaigners. However, industry leaders warn that the livelihoods of Discovery Island communities have been put in peril, with up to 1,500 jobs at risk.

Managing Director of Grieg Seafood BC, Jennifer Woodland, told WeAreAquaculture earlier this month that the decision "goes against DFO's own science". Cermaq echoed the sentiment, commenting to WeAreAquaculture that the company was "disappointed and dismayed by this decision which makes no sense".

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