Kaitlin Guitard is a smolt farmer and water quality technician for Mowi Canada West on a farm near Quadra Island.
She’s new to the industry after graduating from Dalhousie University two years ago but is already facing a layoff.
“It’s all the talk right now on the farm,” she said. “People are scared, people are genuinely scared for their families, for their children.”
Guitard is facing potential layoff after the federal government announced in December that all farms in the Discovery Islands have to close by June 2022 because of the risk they pose to wild salmon stocks returning to the Fraser River.
“If I felt like this industry was posing a risk to wild salmon I would not have got involved in this industry,” said Guitard.
Of the 19 fish farms in the Discovery Islands between Campbell River and Sayward Mowi has 14 and will be impacted the hardest.
It doesn’t understand the decision saying it goes against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ own conclusions.
“DFO did an 8-year study of wild salmon and the impacts of the salmon farming industry on wild salmon in the Discovery Islands area and found there was less than minimal risk,” said Dean Dobrinsky, Mowi Canada West director of human resources and communications.
Dobrinsky says 1,500 direct and indirect jobs are now at risk beginning in four to five months as the farms run out of fish and close.
“Everybody from the rope and tackle suppliers to the grocery stores that supply our farms to the processing plants that process the fish we produce to the water taxi people and on and on and on,” he said.
North Island MP Rachel Blaney, who met with Jordan on Monday, says the decision was made too quickly and without a plan to replace jobs or a plan to see wild salmon rebound.
“At this point, I really respect there was a process that happened and indigenous rights and title were a big part of that process,” said Blaney. “There was a Nation to Nation discussion. What I really want to see now is we really all need to come together, we need to see the federal government step up and make a commitment and we need to create solutions. People can not wait. They are worried about how they are going to keep their mortgages and I was very clear with the minister this is very urgent.”