First Nations chiefs call on Canadian government honour net pen phase out commitment
November 20, 2023 By Nestor Arellano
A majority of First Nations chiefs from British Columbia pressed Canada’s federal government to stick to their promise to phase out open net-pen salmon farms in the province by 2025.
“This is a very clear opportunity for the federal government to take meaningful actions for reconciliation with First Nations literally across the province of British Columbia and in doing so enacting a safeguard for food security,” said Bob Chamberlin, chair of the First Nation Wild Salmon Alliance, at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 7.
In 2022, the Union of BC Indian Chief (UBCIC) called on the federal government to protect the Pacific salmon wild habitat and the wild salmon stocks in BC by placing a moratorium on new licenses for open-net salmon farming in the Discovery Islands, fulfilling the 2025 salmon farming phase-out commitments expressed in the Open-Net Transition Plan, and passing a biodiversity legislation that addresses wild salmon management and protection of salmon habitat.
Supporters of the transition content that open-net farms are vectors for the transfer of disease to wild salmon.
Salmon farmers in the region have been pushing back on the phase out plans and campaigns against the transition plan continues. Their supporters also say that thousands of jobs will be lost if net pens are phased out.
On Nov. 7, First Nation Chiefs from BC also traveled to Ottawa to call on the Trudeau government to make good on its commitment to phase out open-net salmon farms by 2025.
Back in 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a bold plan to transition from open net-pen fish farming to land-based farming in BC in the next six years. The shift to land-based aquaculture was part of the government’s Aquaculture Act for Canada.
The Canadian Aquaculture Alliance called the Liberal government’s transition plans “reckless” and called for a more science-based approach.
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