Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's Liberals have pledged to help BC politicians transition salmon farming to closed containment by 2025.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's Liberals have pledged to help BC politicians transition salmon farming to closed containment by 2025.

Fury as ‘reckless’ Liberals pledge to end net pen salmon farming in BC

Canada’s fish farmers have slammed a “reckless” election campaign commitment by the country’s Liberal Party to move all salmon farming in British Columbia to closed containment by 2025.


The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), together with its regional counterparts, issued a joint statement condemning the promise as highly irresponsible with potentially serious and far-reaching negative consequences for Canadian jobs and the environment.

“This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science, and it will threaten good middle-class jobs across Canada,” said Timothy Kennedy, the CAIA’s president and chief executive.

Tim Kennedy: "This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science".
Tim Kennedy: "This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science".

Strongest protection

The Liberal Party published its election manifesto – or platform - yesterday.

Under a picture of Liberal leader and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a canoe and the headline “Healthy Oceans”, the party says that to protect its oceans it has moved forward with some of the strongest ocean conservation and protection plans in the world.

“To keep Canada’s oceans healthy, we will move forward with more investments in marine science and fighting invasive species, and will work with coastal communities, Indigenous communities, and others to better protect fish stocks and marine habitats from changes resulting from climate change. This will include introducing Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act,” states the manifesto.

“In British Columbia, we will work with the province to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.”

‘A top sustainable performer’

In its response, the CAIA, BC Salmon Farmers Association, Ontario Aquaculture Association, Atlantic Canada Fish Farmers Association, Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association, point out that salmon farming is the most environmentally sustainable large-scale farmed animal production in the world and a solution to climate change.

“British Columbia farm-raised salmon production has been recognised as being a global top sustainable performer: the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch recognised the provincial production as ‘a good alternative’ last year, the only region so recognised in the world, and the FAIRR Global Index lists BC salmon producers as the top sustainable global producers of animal protein,” their statement says.

“It is a critical solution to the world’s growing demand for low impact, low-carbon emissions, high-protein food supply while alleviating pressure on threatened wild fish stocks.”

No evidence of harm

The salmon producers point out that seafood farming provides 26,000 full-time jobs across Canada where they are needed most: in indigenous, remote, and coastal communities.

“The Liberal party has consistently said it will base decisions on science. There is no evidence that BC salmon farms are harming wild salmon populations. While pilot projects to grow salmon to full size in closed containment are happening around the world, this work needs to continue in partnership and without any artificial mandates and timelines,” continues the statement.

Irresponsible policy platform

“No other nation has proposed this requirement of their salmon production. If implemented, this requirement will only move local, top-quality production to other countries that may not have the high environmental standards Canada already employs.”

Kennedy said: “While we are already a top global performer, our sector is committed to constant improvement. Our farmers need support and confidence to continue to invest in Canada. This irresponsible policy platform seriously undermines this confidence.”

Canadians go to the polls in a federal election on October 21.