Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal government decision to phase out fish farms has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.”
In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, this group says they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months.
In mid-December, the Government of Canada announced that the fish farms in the Discovery Islands — near Campbell River –will be phased out due to environmental concerns.
Jordan has said she made the decision after hearing unanimous opposition to the farms from local First Nations.
The Discovery Islands act as a bottleneck along wild salmon migration routes and eliminating the fish farms was a key recommendation made in 2012 by the Cohen Commission on the decline of Fraser River sockeye.
The letter says the move will eliminate about 1,500 jobs and could put the entire $1.6-billion provincial industry at risk.
It is signed by mayors in Campbell River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Gold River, as well as 11 industry representatives.
“We feel disposable and discarded,” the letter says, before asking Jordan what her plan is to help communities recover.
“Be advised that we will no longer sit on the sidelines and will be pursuing every possible option to remedy this untenable situation.”
Jordan could not immediately be reached for comment.
While complaints arise regarding the decision, many are calling the move “historic”, saying banning fish farms in these areas will allow wild salmon populations to flourish.
With files from the Canadian Press