The Hill Times (July 1, 2024)
02 Jul
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Precautionary approach applied to ban open-net pens in BC

The federal government has officially announced a ban on open-net pen salmon farms in BC with a deadline to transition by 2029. Over 120 First Nations from across BC and 75% of British Columbians support the removal of ocean-polluting Atlantic salmon farms from BC waters to protect wild Pacific salmon for future generations.

Two Federal Ministers of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard have acted contrary to DFO’s advice in order to uphold their primary responsibility to safeguard Canada’s fisheries and oceans resources. In 2023, former Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray embraced the Precautionary Approach in her decision to remove open-net pen salmon farms from the Discovery Islands in BC. This decision was upheld by the Federal Court, as it fulfilled the duty to consult and did not violate the operators’ right to procedural fairness.

“Now, despite DFO’s denial, the [current Fisheries] Minister has recognized the harm, exercised her discretion, and applied the precautionary principle by promising to remove this harmful industry from BC. Her decision should be a fatal blow to DFO’s decades long mismanagement by suppression and denial.” – Karen Writsten, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society.

The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Harriet Solloway, is launching an investigation into allegations that senior federal fisheries officials attempted to silence scientists involved in research related to the threat from open-net pen salmon farms to wild Pacific salmon.

With the decline of wild Pacific salmon populations, it’s critical that the federal government take action to address the threats they face and ensure their survival.

See article in The Hill Times here. Read full op-ed here.