Letter to keep the promise on removing fish farms from coastal waters

Friends of Wild Salmon Sample Letter to Federal Government on Open-Net Fish Farms

Send a letter in 3 easy steps!

Please join us in calling on the federal government to keep their promise to transition open net-pen fish farms to on-land, closed-containment systems to protect wild salmon.

Step 1: Copy and paste the sample text below into the body of an email using your personal email platform and add your personal details (address, name, date, your Member of Parliament)

Step 2: Look up the contact information for your Member of Parliament here https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/

Step 3: Copy and paste the following email addresses, and the email address of your MP, into your email: bernadette.jordan@parl.gc.ca, justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca, john.horgan.mla@leg.bc.ca, lana.popham.mla@leg.bc.ca. Click send!



Hon. Bernadette Jordan

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

200 Kent Street

Station 15N100

Ottawa, ON K1A 0E6



Dear Minister Jordan:

I was encouraged that the 2019 Liberal election platform stated, “In British Columbia, we will work with the province to develop a responsible plan to transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.” This was excellent news for the supporters of Friends of Wild Salmon (FOWS) in the Skeena watershed and coastal communities of British Columbia’s Pacific Northwest.

In 2005, FOWS was established to oppose Marine Harvest’s plans to introduce open net-pen Atlantic salmon aquaculture in the mouth of the Skeena, BC’s second largest river and home to significant wild salmon runs. Well-documented evidence from Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Chile, and Canada had convinced northern residents that wherever these fish farms operated, wild salmon and sea trout populations suffered. That was a risk we were not prepared to accept.

Commercial fishermen, sports anglers, tourism operators and First Nations came together to prevent the threat fish farms posed to wild fish stocks. In response to our campaign, the provincial government established the Sustainable Aquaculture legislative committee in 2006.  As a result of hearings across BC, the following May, the committee’s report recommended against permitting fish farms in northern waters. In March, 2008, the provincial government announced a moratorium on fish farms north of Aristazabal Island.

While FOWS’ grassroots campaign had achieved its goal of keeping the north free of fish farms, we were disappointed that they continued to exist in coastal waters to the south. A hopeful sign in 2019 was the provincial government’s announcement of the closure of up to 17 Norwegian-owned salmon farms between 2019 and 2023 in the Broughton Archipelago. It appeared that British Columbia might join Washington state and Alaska in being free of fish farms, which was why we welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge to move them on land by 2025.

Sadly, the announcement in February that “Our government is working on a responsible plan to transition the industry away from open net-pen salmon farming in BC, and we have committed to developing this plan by 2025” was a severe let down to our hopes of protecting BC’s endangered wild salmon before it is too late.  Now, open net-pen farms will not be removed from our coastal waters by 2025, only a plan for the transition will be developed by then, and gone is any reference to closed-containment.

The disastrous returns of salmon and steelhead in BC in 2019 raised fears that we are in danger of losing the wild fish that contribute so much to our economy, ecosystems and marine and terrestrial wildlife. FOWS showed that wild salmon support commercial fishing, sports lodges, eco-tourism and service industries to the tune of millions of dollars each year in the Skeena region. The public fishery has been shown to contribute $1.1 billion and 9,000 jobs in 2016 to the BC economy. Beyond their value to humans, the returning salmon are essential to feeding a diverse range of wild life, including marine mammals. The low returns of chinook, for example, have been linked to the poor condition of the remaining 73 endangered Southern resident orcas which are starving. Salmon even contribute to the health of BC’s forests through the marine nutrients they bring to the river valleys.

Pacific salmon in British Columbia are clearly in trouble, and the impact of fish farms may be the tipping point. The aquaculture industry worldwide has shown that it cannot control lice infestations in its farms. The sea lice have become resistant to SLICE, which in any case, is harmful to all crustacean larvae, such as lobsters. It also takes only one louse to kill a pink salmon fry. The huge amount of fish faeces and food pellets from the net pens turns the sea bed beneath into a lifeless wasteland, and contributes to algae blooms that kill fish. The millions of farmed salmon moreover are a breeding ground for diseases and pathogens that further endanger wild salmon. Closed containment on land solves all of these problems.

Your department has concluded that Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) are commercially ready as an alternative to ocean net pen aquaculture in BC. Several RAS facilities exist already in BC and Nova Scotia, and many more under construction in the United States, Dubai and even Saudi Arabia. Norway, the birthplace of open net-pen aquaculture, has made it impossible for new ONP operations to establish or for existing operations to expand, by imposing high licence fees or innovation requirements; however, licences for land-based, RAS installations are free. Clearly in Norway, RAS is seen as the future for farming Atlantic salmon.

Wild salmon are an iconic species to British Columbians and Indigenous communities. Will you work with them to meet the commitment to transition open net-pen fish farms to on-land, closed-containment systems to protect our salmon?




Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Your Member of Parliament – find their contact info here

Premier John Horgan – premier@gov.bc.ca

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham - agr.minister@gov.bc.ca

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