Op-ed: In support of removing open net-pen salmon farms from BC waters
The entire west coast commercial salmon fishing fleet and the union which represents the shoreworkers, tendermen, and fishermen have come together in support of removal of open net-pen salmon farms from the waters of British Columbia, Canada.
We are grateful to Canadian Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray for her announcement on Friday, 17 February, 2023, in which she has taken action to protect wild B.C. salmon by denying renewal of the 15 licenses in the Discovery Islands region. Along with the previous open net-pen closures in the Broughton Archipelago, the removal of these salmon farms from the migratory routes will limit the source of viruses and the excessive sea lice loads that threaten wild Pacific salmon stocks.
It is possible to have both a viable aquaculture industry and to restore wild salmon runs, with the associated benefits to the people and wildlife that depend on these runs. We just need to ensure the natural marine and freshwater environment is restored and maintained in pristine condition and British Columbia can again have a renewable wild salmon resource that can sustain and employ thousands of people by providing nutritious, local food and meaningful jobs from putting things back to the way they were and should always be.
We are encouraging the development of regenerative aquaculture, like the oyster, clam, mussel, and seaweed farms that improve the environment while producing nutritious food. These sustainable and responsible aquaculture systems represent an opportunity to arrest and reverse the socioeconomic decline in our Indigenous and coastal communities.
Commercial, Indigenous, and recreational fishers have joined conservation and eco-tourism groups, along with elected officials across the political spectrum, to endorse Minister Murray’s leadership in driving the transition to responsible aquaculture in British Columbia. And we are not alone. In a recent poll, 86 percent of British Columbians expressed their concern about the decline of wild Pacific salmon stocks.
Minister Murray has taken a decisive step toward restoring the health and resilience of the ocean, while promoting the harvest and production of seafood that is truly “blue” without degrading the marine ecosystem.
Guy Dean, President/General Manager, Organic Ocean Seafood Inc.
Chris Ashton, BC Salmon Purse Seine Association
Mabel Mazurek, Area C Harvest Committee
Paul Kershaw, Area D Gillnetters Association
Darrel McEachern, Area E Harvest Committee, Northern Trollers Association
Dave MacKay, Northern Trollers Association
Mike Wells, Area G Trollers Association
Dane Chauvel, Gulf Trollers Association
Emily Orr, UFAWU-Unifor