Ryan Bush, general manager of haulier AquaTrans Distributors, is among 24 signatories to a letter urging federal ministers to give six-year licences to salmon farms in British Columbia.

Canadian aquaculture suppliers demand six-year licences for fish farms

Federal government must act to end uncertainty for thousands, say BC companies


Aquaculture industry suppliers in British Columbia have added their voices to a call for the federal government ministers to grant a minimum six-year renewal for salmon farm licences in the province.

They have written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet to make a case for the sector which they say has been “mired in uncertainty” since Trudeau made a 2019 election promise “to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025” in BC.

The letter follows calls by salmon producers and First Nations that benefit from salmon farming in their traditional territories in BC to renew licences for at least six years.

Two-year permits

Their demand comes against a background of the arbitrary closure of 19 farms in the Discovery Islands in BC by former fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan in late 2020, and the decision by her successor Joyce Murray – a known opponent of net pen fish farms – to renew licences for the remaining 79 farms in BC for just two years from mid-2022.

Murray lost her job in a government reshuffle last July and was replaced by current fisheries minister Diane Lebouthillier who it is hoped will take a more even-handed approach to the issue.

In their letter to Trudeau, Lebouthillier, and the other 33 members of the cabinet, the BC-based aquaculture suppliers point out that they directly employ many hundreds of British Columbians, and indirectly support thousands more. They add that the uncertainty caused by the federal government means those within the salmon sector are unable to plan for the future of their families and companies are limited in their ability to invest.

Long-term outlook

“The future that all parties want includes the most progressive and ethical methods of salmon farming. But it’s a future that requires hard work and investment, resources that require a long-term outlook to succeed,” say the suppliers.

“A single salmon production cycle takes six years from start to finish,” they add. “We ask that you take the next step with us, and support a minimum six-year licence renewal.”

The letter is signed by representatives of 24 companies, including Ryan Bush, general manager of haulier AquaTrans Distributors, who has offered to speak to any minister who requires more information on the issue. Bush has previously featured in a BC Salmon Farmers' Association video (see below) challenging Trudeau's initial transition plan.

Signatories also include Mark Lane, director of Bluegreen Canada, a subsidiary of Norwegian company Bluegreen which has developed the Marine Donut floating closed containment facility currently be trialled by the world’s second largest salmon farmer, SalMar.