Canadian fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan. Image taken from Global News video.

Fisheries minister 'intent on ending BC salmon farming'

Salmon farmer Mowi Canada West says the country’s fisheries and oceans minister Bernadette Jordan is intent on wiping out the industry in British Columbia.

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The accusation follows the refusal of Mowi’s request to transfer 525,000 post-smolts from its Shelter Pass nursery site to its Phillips Arm site for grow-out. The fish, with an average weight of 1.2kg, will have to euthanised because Mowi has nowhere else to put them.

Phillips Arm is one of 19 sites in the Discovery Islands that Jordan has ordered to be closed by the end of June next year. The closure decision in December last year was made following consultations between Jordan and seven First Nations whose traditional territories include the areas where the farms are situated. They blame fish farming for the decline of wild salmon despite studies by Jordan’s own Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that the industry poses a less than minimal risk to wild stocks.

‘Orderly transition process’

Jordan said in December that she wanted to ensure a fair and orderly transition process that phases out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands, but her 18-month deadline failed to take into account the fish that had already been hatched and were destined for the Discovery Islands sites. First Nations whose territories include the areas where Mowi and Cermaq Canada have sites had agreed to let the companies have one more harvest to make use of those fish but transfers to the sites have been vetoed by Jordan.

Mowi has already had to cull 7 million fish and must now kill more.

“In completing the transfer application, we showed that the transfer met all of the regulatory requirements and is considered low risk,” Mowi Canada West spokesperson Dean Dobrinsky told Fish Farming Expert.

“Despite demonstrating that the Phillips Arm application has achieved requisite (still undefined) social acceptability and that the cost to local communities and to the company would be substantial, the Minister (Jordan) remains steadfast in her desire to inflict the greatest damage to the people whose livelihoods depend on this sector. As food producers, this decision will force us to kill an additional 525,000 fish, the equivalent of more than 10,000,000 meals.

“While touting a Blue Economy strategy for Canada, it is jarringly clear that this Minister, this Government, and the local MP are flatly opposed to a Blue Economy in British Columbia and will not be moved no matter what evidence we provide.

“This is one more piece of disastrous news for our employees and our communities from a Minister intent on ending this vital anchor sector in British Columbia.”

Mowi, along with Cermaq, Grieg Seafood BC and chinook salmon farmer Saltstream, are seeking a judicial review of what Dobrinsky called “the entire devastating policy decision by Minister Jordan”.