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Canadian fisheries minister receives mandate to push land-based fish farms

December 19, 2019  By  Nestor Arellano

DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan

Working with Indigenous groups and the province of British Columbia to implement a transition from open net-pen fish farms to closed containment systems will be one of the key missions of Canada’s fisheries and oceans tsar.

Late last week Bernadette Jordan, Canada’s newly installed Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard received her mandate letter from the countries Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The mandate includes a provision requiring the Canadian government to work with Indigenous communities on the Liberal government’s controversial plan to switch land-based aquaculture by 2025. Many of these Indigenous communities have signed operating agreements with open net-pen salmon operators.


Among the key provisions were for Jordan to:

  • Implement the recently modernized Fisheries Act, which restores lost protections, prioritizes rebuilding fish populations and incorporates modern safeguards so that fish and fish habitats are protected for future generations and Canada’s fisheries can continue to grow the economy and sustain coastal communities. The sustainability of our ocean resources remains paramount.
  • Work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025 and begin work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.
  • Use good scientific evidence and traditional Indigenous knowledge when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management

Back in October, with a little more than three weeks before Canadians went to the polls to decide whether he should be given a second mandate,  Trudeau unveiled a comprehensive agenda that could transform the country’s aquaculture industry.

Trudeau introduced the Liberal Party’s plans for “Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act.” The document also spelled out the Liberal’s aquaculture agenda to replace British Columbia’s open net pens with land-based salmon farms by 2025. It was a strategy that was quickly labeled as “reckless” by an alliance of aquaculture organizations across Canada.

In an interview with SeafoodSource, Tim Kennedy, executive director of the Aquaculture Industry Alliance, said it was not clear to him if the mandate meant that net-pens would be removed by 2025.

“If it is a transition by 2025, we still have very strong concerns about that. We certainly believe that sustainable maritime farming is a solution to Indigenous reconciliation, as well as carbon reductions and [securing] future food supply, but the idea of moving marine farms out of British Columbia, that’s not something that we support at all,” he said.

Skwah First Nation elder Eddie Gardner, found the mandate encouraging. He has been fighting for years to see open-net fish farms moved off the migratory routes of Fraser River wild salmon runs.

“This will go a long way toward international efforts to restore our wild salmon and to preserve them for the wild salmon economy, and the biodiversity upon which we all depend,” Gardner said in an interview with VictoriaNews.com.

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