The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is making their choice clear for the federal government: Get the fish farms out of the water, right now.
In a press release issued Nov. 23, the UBCIC demand the DFO take action and end the practice of open net fish farming. This comes on the heels of Washington State’s announcement last week that farming will be barred from their waters effective Dec. 14, with the deconstructing of Cooke Aquaculture’s steelhead farming equipment commencing thereafter.
Washington is now the fourth American state on the west coast to bar the practice of open net fish farming, joining California, Oregon and Alaska. The UBCIC says it’s time that the Feds to stop prioritizing industry, and start prioritizing the science that suggests the disease and viruses are damaging the wild stock that migrate through the path of fish farms.
“The overwhelming majority of First Nations in BC oppose open net fish farming due to the detrimental effects it has on wild salmon,” UBCIC President, Grand Chief Steward Phillip says. “Water is contaminated, poisoning salmon, shellfish and other marine life.”
In late 2020, then-DFO minister Bernadette Jordan issued the impending closure of all fish farms in the Discovery Islands, stating the licences owned by giants such as Mowi, Grieg Seafood, and Cermaq be revoked by June of this year. in April, a federal judge stated further consultation was needed. The federal government has held clear to their goal of the removal of fish farms from B.C. waters by 2025.
That’s not good enough, stated UBCIC Vice-President, Chief Don Tom.
“The DFO is failing to implement its mandate to transition from open net pen farming in BC waters by 2025 and instead released a transition plan with vague targets, such as progressively minimizing interactions between farmed and wild salmon,” Tom said. “It is disheartening to see that the plan is simply yet another DFO bait-and-switch, promising transformational change and simply delivering minor adjustments.”
This comes on the heels of the NDP turning the heat up on the Liberals regarding the issue last week. During question period, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Lisa Marie Barron spoke up on the apparent incentivizing the Liberals and Conservatives have during the history of fish farms.
“Canadians want to know when this government will finally return our coastal waters back to wild salmon,” Barron said in the House of Commons on Nov. 17. “Polluting open net fish farms destroy ecosystems and livelihoods, but the Liberals and Conservatives continue to put profits before communities.”
In a statement, MP Barron said, “Despite their promises to transition away from fish farms, the Liberals keep dragging their heels, and make decisions that don’t line up with their promises to transition, such as fish farm expansion.”