John Paul Fraser at one of the fish farms he will represent in his new role at the BC Salmon Farmers' Association. Photo: BCSFA
John Paul Fraser at one of the fish farms he will represent in his new role at the BC Salmon Farmers' Association. Photo: BCSFA

Ex-deputy minister named as BC salmon farmers’ chief

The BC Salmon Farmers’ Association has appointed a former regional government deputy minister, John Paul Fraser, as its new executive director, effective immediately.

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John Paul Fraser: 'Important but misunderstood industry'.
John Paul Fraser: "Important but misunderstood industry".

Fraser has an extensive background in public and government communications. He was British Columbia’s deputy minister responsible for government communications and public engagement until last year.

“I was drawn to this role by the opportunity to become an advocate for this important but misunderstood industry at a critical time,” Fraser said in a press release.

Good jobs

“BC’s salmon farmers provide nearly three-quarters of the salmon harvested in the province each year while supporting thousands of Canadian families in rural coastal communities with good jobs, many of them held by young, local First Nations people who are deeply connected to the environment they work in and the communities in which they grew up.

“In looking at this role, I was struck with just how deeply our province’s salmon farmers understand that wild salmon come first and that they play a critical role in protecting wild fish populations.

“They understand they must, and do, operate responsibly by using the most innovative green techniques and acting on independent science. They also understand how important it is that they are giving consumers a local and healthy alternative to eating wild salmon when making their meal choices.”

Fraser's career in communications

  • Senior advisor and speech writer, Government of Canada, 1994-2001
  • UBC Liu Institute of Global Issues 2001-2003
  • Partner, Burrard Communications 2004-2006
  • Vice president, NATIONAL Public Relations, 2006-2011
  • Deputy Minister, province of British Columbia 2011-2017

Gain trust

“My first priority will to gain the public’s trust,” added Fraser. “While the importance of salmon farming is well understood in the communities where our members operate that is not the case in urban centres and there is no question we have work to do on that front. I look forward to bringing forward the story of just how important and progressive this industry is.”

Fraser will have his work cut out in his new job. The current administration in British Columbia is hostile to salmon farming and on June 20 announced tough new rules for the renewal of salmon farm tenancies, which it is responsible for allocating.

Agriculture minister Lana Popham said that from June 2022, the province will grant tenures only to fish farm operators who have satisfied Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that their operations will not affect wild salmon stocks, and who have negotiated agreements with the First Nation(s) in whose territory they propose to operate.

Such agreements may prove impossible to reach in areas such as the Broughton Archipelago, where Marine Harvest Canada has had to go to court to prevent anti-salmon farming activists, including First Nations members, from occupying farm sites and harassing staff.

The BCSFA’s previous executive director, Jeremy Dunn, is now community relations and public affairs director at Marine Harvest Canada.