An aerial shot of a hydrolicer parked next to a floating factory fish farm.

Photo Credit: Clayoquot Action

Factory Fish Farms One Step Closer to Gone

This move signals hope for wild salmon, but they still need protection

Two-year licenses for factory farms outside the Discovery Islands

Nearly a hundred factory fish farm licenses will expire on June 30th. The federal government promised to phase out the farms by 2025. With a week till the licenses expire, the federal government has announced its plans for factory fish farms in VanIsle waters.

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray made the announcement on June 22nd. Here are the highlights.

No renewed licenses in the Discovery Islands

Fish farms were already being phased out of the Discovery Islands. But now we know that no new licenses will be granted for any farms hoping to stick around.

That’s good news for wild salmon. There’s evidence that removing the open-net pens from the Okisollo channel reduced the number of sea lice on passing salmon.

The federal government will consult First Nations and fish farm companies in the Discovery Islands. That’s because a recent federal court decision said the original decision to remove the pens wasn’t carried out properly.

Though more than a hundred First Nations have banded together to oppose factory fish farms, a small number want to build or expand them in their territory.

Two-year license renewals for everyone else

Existing factory fish farms outside the Discovery Islands are getting two-year license renewals. According to the government, that will give them time to consult with First Nations and fish farm companies on how best to transition out of open-net pen farming.

Up till now, most licenses have been renewed for six-year terms. So this is a significant change.

The new licenses are more strict around monitoring, reporting, and sea lice management.

What does this mean?

The federal government promised to phase out factory fish farms by 2025. It looks like they’re trying to keep that promise.

But now is not the time to sit back. Wild salmon will still have to pass through factory farms for the next two years.

And we’ll have to keep a close eye on the government to make sure they stick with their plan.

Stan Proboszcz is a science advisor with Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

“Not renewing factory fish farms licences in the Discovery Islands is the only way to protect wild
salmon from parasites and diseases,” he said. “Government needs to finish the job, province-wide, in order to protect wild salmon.”

Most folks in BC are concerned about the impacts of factory fish farms on wild salmon.

Maybe they’re concerned enough to keep plastering giant sea lice on Premier John Horgan’s office till the fish farms are removed.