The BC Salmon Farmers Association is reacting to the federal government’s decision to phase  out fish farms in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River.

In a statement, the association said the decision “has significant implications and puts salmon farming in B.C. and across Canada at risk.” 

“This comes at a bad time, during a pandemic when local food supply and good local jobs have never been more important,” the statement said.

“We have just received this decision, and will be taking some time to consider it and speak with the numerous companies and communities involved in salmon farming in the province before commenting further.”

The BCSFA noted that 

  • BC farmed salmon is BC’s #1 seafood and agri-food export with a total economic output of $1.6 billion.
  • Salmon farming currently supports nearly 6,500 full time jobs that pay 30 percent higher than BC’s median income.
  • Many of these jobs are in rural coastal Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities on North Vancouver Island.
  • Salmon farmers produce 87,000 tonnes of farmed salmon annually, this creates 353 million healthy, locally produced, carbon friendly meals.
  • Since the pandemic salmon donations to local and regional food banks alone have exceeded 112,000 pounds (equal to over 500,000 meals).

On Thursday, fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced a plan to eliminate existing salmon farming operations in the area within 18 months.

As well, the government says it will:

  • stipulate that no new fish of any size may be introduced into Discovery Islands facilities during this time; and
  • mandate that all farms be free of fish by June 30th, 2022, but that existing fish at the sites can complete their growth-cycle and be harvested.