Feds delay closure of B.C.'s open-net salmon farms until 2029

  • Canadian Press

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. The federal government is expected to announce the way forward for fish farms along British Columbia's coast. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

OTTAWA -- The federal government is delaying the shutdown of open-net salmon farms off British Columbia's coast until 2029.

The government had promised to phase out the farms by next year, but Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier says she will allow aquaculture farms to renew their licences in what is a "responsible, realistic and achievable transition" away from the ocean farms.

The minister says while wild Pacific salmon are an iconic species that is important to First Nations, and commercial and recreational fishermen, aquaculture represents food security and it is surpassing wild fishing around the world.

She says the government will soon introduce nine-year licences for closed containment salmon farm operations.

Lebouthillier has been consulting with many groups about the transition plan involving 79 salmon farms after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged during the 2019 election that his government would phase out ocean-pen farming.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association has said about 4,700 jobs and more than $1 billion in annual economic activity will be lost if the licences can't be renewed, while opponents say the farms can spread lice and disease to wild fish.

This report by was first published June 19, 2024.