DFO says wholesale removal of open-net pen salmon operations in BC by 2025 isn’t happening

Campaigners who have an “all-or-nothing” thinking when it comes to moving British Columbia’s open-net pen operations to closed containment technology by 2025 will be disappointed, as the Fisheries minister herself has said that’s unlikely.

“I think there was some misunderstanding that there would be sort of a dramatic change in just a very, very short time,” said Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Joyce Murray, following her engagement tour as part of the plan to transition open-net pen operations in the province.

Her aim is to develop “a pathway for existing aquaculture operations to adopt alternative production methods,” so salmon farmers “can actually accomplish the goal of progressively minimizing or eliminating interaction between farmed salmon and the wild salmon,” she told Canada’s National Observer.

Under the mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Murray is to put in place a transition plan next year and, by June 2024, have a new licensing regime drawn up. Murray said what’s not part of her mandate is prescribing closed containment production methods. That would be the industry’s responsibility, the minister was quoted as saying.

First Nations leaders who are in the anti-salmon-farming camp are convinced that what Murray is working on is a “watered down” version of what Trudeau promised during his 2019 election campaign because it doesn’t espouse the outright removal of open-net pen operations by 2025.

Murray said her tour in BC was meant to get input from a wide range of people on how the transition should happen, but she’s glad it also gave her the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings about the open-net pen transition process.


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