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B.C. fish farms get reprieve from phase out

April 28, 2022  By  Nestor Arellano

The Canadian government’s campaign to transition British Columbia’s aquaculture industry to land-based operations, has hit a snag after a federal court judge set aside an order from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to phase out open net fish farms in Discovery Islands, B.C.

Fish farm operators, Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood, and Mowi Canada, filed a request for judicial review of a 2020 order by then Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. At that time, Jordan said that the licenses of 79 fish farms around Discovery Islands would expire on June 30, 2022. She said she did not intend to renew the licenses.

The move was part of the federal government  aquaculture strategy to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.


The farm operators argued this prevented them from restocking their farms.

In a decision handed down on on April 22, Federal Court Judge Elizabeth Heneghan the order made by Jordan did not provided procedural fairness owed to the operators of the 79 fish farms.

“The decision, in the absence of reasons, cannot be justified. In the absence of reasons, it is not transparent. In the absence of reasons, it is not intelligible,” Heneghan told the Vancouver Sun.

Heneghan’s decision to set aside the phase out was welcomed by the BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“The BC Salmon Farmers Association is encouraged that the Federal Court has set aside the Decision of the Minister to remove salmon farming in the Discovery Islands and has upheld the earlier injunction granted on April 5, 2021. This is a positive development for the coastal Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in which we operate, and the thousands of family-supporting jobs our sector sustains,” a statement from the organization said.

The association also said that it will be reaching out to First Nations in the areas where they operated “to review this decision and will have more to say in the following days and weeks ahead.”

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