Skwah elder Eddie Gardner speaks with reporters outside Cheam First Nation where a meeting with PM Justin Trudeau was taking place, near Chilliwack, on June 5, 2018. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Trudeau sets 2025 deadline to remove B.C. fish farms

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

It was just one sentence about removing open-net fish farms from B.C. waters by 2025.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote it in the Dec. 13 mandate letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan.

But that one promise provided a long-awaited positive sign for independent biologist Alexandra Morton, and Skwah First Nation elder Eddie Gardner, who have both been fighting for years to see open-net fish farms moved off the migratory routes of Fraser River wild salmon runs.

The PM’s letter pledges to: “Work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025, and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.”

“It’s very encouraging news,” Gardner said in a phone interview, adding he’ll be firing off a letter of congratulations and thanks to the PM, for following up on a campaign promise, as well as to the Province of B.C. and the new Fisheries Minister.

“This will go a long way toward international efforts to restore our wild salmon and to preserve them for the wild salmon economy, and the biodiversity upon which we all depend,” Gardner said.

READ MORE: Transition plan by B.C. praised

As one of the founders of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance, Gardner has lobbied government, business and the public for years, holding rallies at big box stores to reinforce the idea that open-net fish farming needs to be shifted away from the ocean.

Morton reacted on Twitter with: “Well, finally a glimmer of hope,” and although she envisions a lot of work ahead with the new minister, the PM’s words constitute a “path” to be followed.

An aquaculture representative weighed in as well.

“The Canadian seafood farmers look forward to working with Minister Jordan under her new mandate from the Prime Minister,” said Tim Kennedy, president of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

The ‘High Level Panel’ for a Sustainable Oceans Economy, to which Canada’s PM is a signatory, has posited that “the largest potential carbon reduction gains for food production” are in the sustainable expansion of marine aquaculture, he said.

“Our sector is a carbon and sustainable food solution. We are also a great opportunity for Canada’s Indigenous peoples and reconciliation and for good jobs in rural and coastal communities,” Kennedy said.

Aquaculture will figure prominently in the global ‘blue economy’ down the road.

“The announcement of Canada’s first Oceans Strategy is very important and seafood farming will play a critical role,” Kennedy noted. “We look forward to discussions with partners in B.C. to develop a responsible plan for the future of salmon farming in the province.”

READ MORE: Cautionary tale for wild salmon


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar autism workshop helps parents cope with wait times

Kootenay Family Place holding workshop Feb. 1

West Kootenay snowpack nearing record levels

High snowpack can mean a greater risk of flooding in spring, say forecasters

RDKB urges caution when reading into early snowpack reports

Staff say it’s too early in the season to have a strong handle on water flow projections

Treading snowy trails across the Boundary

Before the rain came this week, trails in the Boundary were well-travelled

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read