Certification of the Swanson Island farm means all Mowi's sites in the Broughton Archipelago are now ASC-approved. Despite the accreditation, some farms face closure by 2023. Photo: Mowi.

Mowi gains ASC approval for doomed farm

All salmon farms operated by Mowi Canada West in the Broughton Archipelago are now certified to Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard, the company has announced.

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Swanson Island was the final Mowi site in the archipelago to achieve ASC certification, and the 25th Mowi farm in British Columbia to earn the approval.

Mowi said 82% of its Canada West production is now ASC certified, and that its goal is to have all its BC sites certified.

Something to be proud of

ASC certification is regarded by Mowi as the toughest and most desirable of the various third-party certifications available to salmon farmers, with farms audited against 500 separate aspects of site performance.

“Growing healthy, high quality salmon requires hard work and dedication,” said Mowi Canada West managing director Dr Diane Morrison.

“Our staff are passionate about their salmon and understand the importance of maintaining the high standards that ASC demands. 100% ASC certification at all Broughton sites is something that they all should be very proud of.”

Swanson Island was occupied by First Nations members opposed to salmon farming. Click on image to enlarge.

Sites facing closure

The certification process can be a long one, and the achievement comes despite the fact that some Mowi and Cermaq farms in the Broughton, including Swanson Island, now face closure under an agreement between the aquaculture industry, First Nations and the Canadian government.

Swanson Island will close in 2022. The site was occupied in late 2017 and early 2018 by First Nations members opposed to salmon farming in their territory, and Mowi had to go to court to evict them.

Other Mowi and Cermaq farms are slated for closure at different dates between 2020 and 2023 (see map below). 

Monitoring plan

Under the Indigenous Monitoring and Inspection Plan (IMIP) announced earlier this year, local First Nations will oversee the closure of fish farms in the archipelago.

The ’Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations agreed the plan with Cermaq Canada, Mowi Canada West and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“The IMIP will provide important First Nations oversight during an orderly transition of 17 fish farm sites between 2019 and 2023. Five farms have already been decommissioned, while others will remain in operations for various terms (two to four years). By the end of 2022, 10 farms will have ceased operations,” said a joint statement released by Mowi Canada West, Cermaq Canada and the local First Nations. 

“The remaining seven farms will cease operations, unless agreements by First Nations and farm operators, and valid Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) licences, are in place by 2023.”

Closed containment

Mowi had hoped to win permission for new sites elsewhere in British Columbia, but the BC government’s ambition to “transition” net-pen salmon farming to closed containment by 2025 appears to make this less likely.

Canada’s Liberal party pledged support for the transition in its manifesto ahead of the October general election in which it was returned to power as a minority government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week included the transition in a list of work he expected new fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan to carry out.