BCSFA warns: further farm closures could end salmon farming in BC

In addition to the salmon industry itself, thousands of jobs, Indigenous Rights, and BC’s rural coastal communities' participation in the future of Canada's blue economy would be at stake.
BC Salmon Farm located in Discovery Islands region prior to farms being removed. Photo: BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).
BC Salmon Farm located in Discovery Islands region prior to farms being removed. Photo: BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

"Any further reduction in salmon production could signal the end of farming in BC". That's how blunt the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) was in a statement after learning that Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Joyce Murray, is proposing a further removal of salmon farms in British Columbia.

"Any proposed further reduction, which some may claim is a reasonable compromise, could signal the closure of the entire sector. A sector which has seen recent closures of 40 per cent of its production since 2020. This approach is anything but responsible", added Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

Job losses, the main concern

In its release, the BCSFA noted these potential new salmon farm closures in BC will work against innovation and a successful transition in the sector. However, their main concern centers primarily on the fact that this sector provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs in coastal and rural British Columbia.

"A decision like this will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, trample Indigenous Rights, and leave businesses who support the industry scrambling to survive", said Brian Kingzett. Once again, he also emphasized DFO is not following its own scientific studies, is ignoring First Nations requests, and is making decisions that, eventually, will end up affecting all Canadians.

"This decision is not based on any credible science, including DFO's own peer-reviewed studies, and is not supported by the many First Nations who want to continue salmon farming in their waters. The closure of salmon farming will decrease Canada's local food supply, forcing Canada to import salmon from other countries to meet the needs of Canadian consumers at a significant price increase. The plan will also take away the ability of BC's rural, coastal communities to participate in Canada's Blue Economy", he claimed.

Asking for rationality in the process

The BC Salmon Farmers Association is convinced that any transition plan that does not take into account the socio-economic impacts on salmon farming communities, the sector's contribution to the blue economy, climate change, and food security will fail.

"The entire Transition framework engagement process has been flawed from the start", continued the Executive Director of the BCSFA. "Minister Murray has not followed her own engagement plan, and we have constantly seen shifting deadlines and goalposts affecting the ability of participants to engage effectively, including the First Nations and salmon farming organizations. In addition, we have had to deal with constantly changing processes, deliverables, and extremely challenging deadlines. How do you achieve success when the DFO Minister keeps changing the rules and timelines?".

In closing, the BCSFA has called on the Canadian federal government to bring a more rational approach to a process that the association has described as "chaotic". Moreover, the B.C. salmon producers have also asked that "other Ministers in providing leadership to develop a reasonable path forward" be included in the negotiation.

About BC Salmon Farmers Association

Established in 1984 and based in Campbell River, British Columbia, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) includes 70 companies and organizations along the fish aquaculture value chain in the province. Its members represent over 95% of the annual provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon in BC, but the BCSFA also includes many of the companies that service and supply them. Farmed salmon is BC's highest-value fish product, the province's leading agricultural export, and generates over $1.2 billion for the BC economy, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs in coastal, rural British Columbia.

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