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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

Liberal Party’s salmon farming platform threatens jobs and ignores facts

The BC Salmon Farmers Association issued this statement from Executive Director John Paul Fraser in response to the Liberal Party of Canada’s new platform on salmon farming (BC Green Party MLA Adam Olsen also provided an op/ed posted on this earlier today):

The Liberal Party’s aquaculture platform commitment to ‘transition from open net pen salmon farming to closed containment systems by 2025’ is destructive, careless and flies in the face of making decisions about aquaculture based on science and facts.

At a time when leaders should be focusing on climate change and climate action, the Liberal Party is looking to shut down the seafood farming method
IMAGE: BC Salmon Farmers Association
with the lowest carbon footprint and suggesting it transition to a technology that depends on manufactured energy. This move would have significant environmental repercussions. It would also have economic repercussions for the families of 7,000 middle-class workers in BC, negatively impacting the health and wellness of coastal communities. 

BC salmon farmers work in deep and respectful relationships with coastal Indigenous communities, with more than 70 per cent of the farmed salmon harvested in BC done so in partnership and with impact benefits agreements with local First Nations.

The Liberal Party’s ill-advised platform commitment puts Indigenous economic opportunity at risk. 

This careless step by the Liberal Party also disrespects the very policy work and process that the federal Minister has directed. Today, our industry is actively engaged in a technical working group on technology, working with all levels of government, First Nations, and non-government organizations to continue fostering technological innovation in ocean farming.

And part of these discussions is a conversation about the growing trend of hybrid systems – which integrate land and sea-based systems – as a strong ‘made-in-BC’ step forward. In fact, a draft report commissioned by the Minister, that is being deliberated by the working group, concludes that ‘the new technologies discussed in this report, as well as conventional net pen systems, will all play a role in contributing to global production of salmon products.’

So, the question really is ... why is the Liberal Party short-circuiting and disrespecting its own collaborative and evidence-based policy-making process?

What’s more, while closed-containment salmon farming has been successful at a smaller scale – and research and trials continue – no-one in the world has successfully raised a large number of salmon in a commercial-scale land or sea based closed containment operation. The technology is currently developing, and we certainly anticipate closed containment systems will play a larger role in the future.

But to forcefully mandate a five-year ‘transition’ is unachievable, especially when there is no business case or transition plan behind it. This is a recipe for industry stagnation and significant unemployment.

Farmed salmon is BC’s top food export, recognized worldwide as a climate friendly sustainably raised alternative to eating wild salmon. We didn’t get here without a lot of hard work and many lessons learned along the way.

Our farmers, who put their hearts and souls into feeding families around the
world, deserve much better than what they are getting from this government.


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