VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Skwxwú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES – In a significant victory for wild salmon and Indigenous rights, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Bernadette Jordan announced today that the government intends to phase out existing fish farms in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands as well as ban new fish farms of any size in the area.
Margot Venton, the nature program director at Ecojustice, issued the following statement in response to the news:
“Ecojustice is thrilled to learn that the government has listened to First Nations’ concerns and agreed to phase out fish farming in the Discovery Islands and renew its commitment to transitioning away from open-net fish farms in B.C. by 2025.
“In recent years, we have seen a freefall in wild Pacific salmon populations, and the science suggests fish farming is, at least in part, to blame.
“When wild salmon migrate past open-net fish farms, such as the ones in the Discovery Islands, they are exposed to contagious diseases, viruses and parasites. In order to protect wild salmon, the shift away from open-net farming must happen swiftly – not just in British Columbia, but in other coastal regions as well.
“Fortunately, today’s announcement offers significant hope for the wild salmon that rely on the waters surrounding the Discovery Islands, and for the coastal communities and ecosystems that depend on these fish. This victory would not have been possible without the leadership and dedication of local First Nations, including the Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwaikah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations.”
Ecojustice has worked alongside scientists, activists and First Nations for years to protect wild salmon in British Columbia from open net fish farms, which are often rife with disease and viruses. In August 2020, Ecojustice called on Minister Jordan to follow recommendations for phasing out fish farms in the Discovery Islands, first put forward in the Cohen Commission. More than 17,400 Ecojustice supporters sent letters of their own, calling on the Minister not to renew fish farm licenses in the area.
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.