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Vancouver Island salmon farmers call shutdown timeline ‘rushed’ as consultations continue

Federal Minister Joyce Murray met with various fishing companies and other members last week
FILE – An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit near Campbell River, B.C. Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

Transitioning away from open net fish farms needs not to be rushed, says the BC Salmon Farmers Fishing Association (BCSFA).

Recently, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray met with various fishing companies and other stakeholders, as well as toured a number of salmon farms on Vancouver Island.

Meetings were also held between salmon farmers, suppliers and the minister. Murray emphasized her interest in the co-development of a transition plan with the sector, which will provide the logistics and tools necessary to meet the environmental framework and protect wild salmon.

“Salmon farming is continuously evolving, which may come as a surprise to those outside of the farming community,” BCSFA interim executive director Ruth Salmon said in a news release. “It was a pleasure to meet with the minister as well as her team to not only discuss the improvements but also showcase them.”

Salmon emphasized the association’s full commitment to the development of the federal government’s transitional plan, which is calling for an end to open net farms by 2025. Salmon said that technology and innovation play critical roles in the process.

“There needs to be flexibility to allow for various pathways.”

However, the rushed time frame the minister has laid out is concerning to the BCFSA, particularly when it comes to the farmed salmon production in the areas of the territories of Laich-kwil-tach, also known as the Discovery Islands region.

READ MORE:Protests greet federal fish farm consultations in Campbell River

“The areas in these farms, are critical to the future of the sector, as well as to those First Nations who view salmon farming as a means to socio-economic stability for their communities,” Salmon said.

”The ecosystems in which we operate, as well as the priorities of the Nations in whose territories we operate are diverse.”

Salmon went on to stress the need for the role of First Nations to be integrated into the larger discussion of open net farms’ future.

About the Author: Edward Hitchins

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