Supply chain business feels heat ahead of British Columbia salmon farm phase out

Seafood transporter Aquatrans risks losing 60 per-cent of its business.

The business publication BIV reports that companies are feeling the squeeze as Justin Trudeau’s re-election pledge to phase open-net salmon farms in coastal British Columbia waters to closed containment systems by 2025, rolls on.

The uncertainty around the future is having an impact on companies that service the salmon farming industry such as main mover of farm-raised salmon Aquatrans.

Established in 1987 with an emphasis in seafood transport, Aquatrans has grown to become a full-service provider of freight hauling with a fleet of 130 trailers, 40 trucks and 64 employees. The salmon farming sector accounts for about 60 per-cent of the company’s business.

Aquatrans general manager Ryan Brush told the publication that an expansion plan for a 10,000-to-20,000-square-foot depot in Campbell River has now been scaled back to about half that size.

PHOTO: Aquatrans BC

“The Liberal government just dropped the bomb on us,” said Brush. “It just felt really impulsive and felt like a knee-jerk reaction to some of the well-funded activists out there who are running off information from 15 years ago.”

With many tech, diving, manufacturing and processing as well as feed businesses working directly and indirectly with the BC salmon farming industry, it’s unlikely Brush is a lone voice here.

On the 18th of December all 18 federal salmon farm licences in the Discovery Islands will expire. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan is expected to make a decision any day whether to renew them.

Brush was sceptical about the call to BC’s salmon production to land-based aquaculture and urged authorities to look at the science.

“Look at the data, look at the science and look at the impacts. There are millions of pounds of fish being produced weekly that just can’t be replicated on a whim,” he said.