Canadian fisheries minister Joyce Murray.

Canada extends BC salmon farming transition talks


Canada’s federal government has officially told salmon farmers in British Columbia that the future of sector will likely only be determined sometime next year after more consultations with First Nations, coastal communities and other stakeholders, the BC-based aquaculture website SeaWestNews reports.

Fisheries minister Joyce Murray was originally scheduled to present options for the “transition” of the BC industry from open net pens last month but has bowed to repeated requests from industry and First Nations to allow more time for proper consultation.

“To respond to requests from First Nations, industry, and stakeholders, we are extending consultation on the open-net pen aquaculture transition to all interested parties through the summer,” the Aquaculture Management Division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said.

Targeted engagement

SeaWestNews reports that the extension involves two phases, the first of which is to run this summer to ensure that all parties are “thoroughly engaged and consulted in discussions related to potential outcomes of a transition plan.”.

The second phase to run from October to January next year is to provide additional opportunities “for more targeted engagement on an as-needed basis”.

Brian Kingzett, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers’ Association, said: “We are taking the coming days to review the new process and phases and what that means for our members regarding engagement opportunities and deliverables.

“We are still concerned that the process, if not carried out properly, will fail to produce a responsible Transition Plan that addresses Rightsholder First Nations’ call for a whole-of-government approach and will take the time to understand the feedback presented by our members in terms of feasibility, timelines, and business certainty.”

The Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship (FNFSS) – a group of First Nations that support fish farming in their traditional territories - said it wants to see more direct collaboration with Ottawa in the extended consultation process.

“We hope this extension will actually lead to a reset into the whole transition process,” coalition spokesperson Dallas Smith told SeaWestNews.