Representatives of Canada's salmon farming industry are hitting back hard at plans unveiled in the recently released Liberal party platform headed by incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to transition salmon farming in British Columbia from ocean netpen farms to land-based operations.
The Liberal platform has potentially serious and far-reaching negative consequences for Canadian jobs and the environment, said the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), which represents the interests of Canada’s aquaculture producers.
“This is a reckless policy, not grounded in science, and it will threaten good middle-class jobs across Canada,” says Timothy Kennedy, CAIA president and CEO.
If implemented, Kennedy added, farmed salmon production would simply be driven to other countries, undercutting efforts the industry has made to improve sustainability.
"The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recognized the provincial production as 'a good alternative' last year, the only region so recognized in the world, and the FAIRR Global Index lists BC salmon producers as the top sustainable global producers of animal protein," Kennedy said.
"It is a critical solution to the world’s growing demand for low impact, low-carbon emissions, high-protein food supply while alleviating pressure on threatened wild fish stocks."
Aquaculture provides 26,000 full-time jobs across Canada and generates $5.4 billion ($4 billion/€3.7 billion) in economic benefits, Kennedy noted. Salmon farming makes up close to 90 percent of this economic value.
The Liberal party has consistently said it will base decisions on science, he said.
"There is no evidence that BC salmon farms are harming wild salmon populations," he said. "While pilot projects to grow salmon to full size in closed containment are happening around the world, this work needs to continue in partnership and without any artificial mandates and timelines."
It's all about the green
The Liberal platform largely echoes a plan released earlier this month by the country's even more left-wing Green Party, which also stated a goal to move all net-pen farming to recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) by 2025.
The Green Party's plan goes a step further, stating the country should remove the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) "mandate to promote salmon aquaculture and shift regulation of aquaculture to Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, thereby eliminating DFO’s conflicting roles of aquaculture promotion and wild salmon protection."