VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS — The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Joyce Murray’s announcement today regarding consultation on the phase-out of open net-pen fish farms from Pacific coastal waters. The announcement signals her intent to meet the federal government’s commitment to remove these fish farms by 2025.

A number of studies indicate open-net salmon farms spread harmful parasites, viruses and bacteria to wild salmon. In 2019, the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River called for removal of farms in the Discovery Islands, which the minister has recognized by declaring a six-month moratorium on any new licences near the islands while she is consulting with industry and First Nations.

“Getting open net-pen farms out of B.C.’s coastal waters is the right thing to do if the federal government is serious about wild salmon recovery,” said David Suzuki Foundation marine conservation specialist Kilian Stehfest. “We’re particularly relieved that the minister has recognized the extraordinarily high risk farms pose in the Discovery Islands. However, the two-year renewals for licences must be the last time Canada extends the timeline on Atlantic salmon farms. It gives industry plenty of time to complete their existing production cycle.”

Former fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan decided not to allow renewal of any licences near the Discovery Islands, but a judicial review found that the minister did not consult enough with industry.

“We look forward to working with government to develop a transition plan that eliminates the risks from salmon farming to wild salmon,” Stehfest said. “We’ll be ready to take a close look at the conditions of the two-year licence renewal to confirm whether they actually reduce any of the multiple risks open net-pen fish farms pose to wild Pacific salmon.”

The federal government is responsible for salmon farm operation licence issues, while the provincial government is responsible for approving changes to tenures. Today’s announcement is in line with the federal government’s public commitment to remove open net-pen salmon farms from B.C. waters by 2025.

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For more information or a media interview, please contact:

Stephanie O’Neill, David Suzuki Foundation,, (780) 964-1192