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Fish farm job losses begin on North Island

The job losses have begun as part of the eventual shut down of fish farms around northern Vancouver Island.

Mowi Canada West has announced that eight warehouse employees will be out of work.

The company says the cuts are directly related to the federal government’s plans to phase out fish farms near the Discovery Islands.

In a statement, Mowi’s human resources and safety director, Dean Dobrinsky, says the Dec. 17th announcement by federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan “are starting to have catastrophic impacts to the salmon farming industry, the suppliers and contractors who support the industry as well as the rural communities on Vancouver Island and the Central Coast.”

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The company points out that closing down the salmon farms means that it will be losing 30 percent of its production.    

“The decisions threaten the livelihoods of 1,500 employees, over 200 local businesses and more than 12 million salmon, equivalent to more than 200 million meals,” Dobrinsky said.

The first part of this restructure was announced yesterday.   

Effective May 4th, Aquatrans (Mowi Canada West’s logistics partner) will take on management of all current warehouse locations (Middle Point, Englewood, Omega Dock, Coal Harbour) and management of all land freight in North America.  

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“Unfortunately, eight employees will lose their position with Mowi,” Dobrinsky said.   

“These employees were provided with eight weeks working notice and at the end of the working notice period, severance will be provided to those employees.”

Dobrinsky added that a “lack of a constructive, inclusive and transparent DI process has placed all operations and future investments in B.C. and Canada at risk and we are having to immediately begin the restructure (of) our business and the devastating impact this has on our employees.  There are at least 168 positions within Mowi at risk as a result of these decisions.”

Mowi Canada West says it continues to reach out to the federal government, asking for:

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  • Time:  “Give us time to mitigate the impending financial devastation and find ways to move our production elsewhere.” 
  • Transfer: “Allow us the opportunity to finish our production cycle by ensuring that we can transfer salmon that was slated to be moved to the Discovery Island farms.”  
  • Table: “Establish a framework (a table) for an inclusive transparent process so that we can work with all in our communities, understand concerns, establish proper supports, readjust business models etc.”

“While we have been well supported in these efforts by our local mayors and councils as well as MLA Babchuk, there has been no indication for support from the federal level,” Dobrinsky said in the statement.   

“Despite our efforts, We have not heard from Minister Jordan since December.”

When announcing the phase out in December, Jordan said that while the government “remains committed to sustainable, environmentally conscious aquaculture…. it must be developed collaboratively and include the voices of Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.”

“I am committed to working with all involved parties; the First Nations, industry and the Province of British Columbia, over the next 18 months to ensure a fair and orderly transition process that phases out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands,” she added.

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