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Feds deny B.C.’s Discovery Island fish farm application to restock

Transfer of 1.5 million juvenile salmon, licence extension denied as farms phased out
A Photo from Sept. 2020, when First Nations and wild salmon advocates took to the streets in Campbell River to protest against open-pen fish farms in B.C.’s waters. On Dec. 17, federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announced her decision to phase out 19 fish farms from Discovery Islands. Cermaq’s application to extend leases and transfer smolts was denied. (Marc Kitteringham/Campbell River Mirror)

An application by fish farm operators in B.C.’s Discovery Islands to restock or extend their licenses has been denied by DFO.

On June 14, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced that Cermaq Canada Ltd.’s April application to restock its area fish farms, as well as extend current licences until Feb. 2023 was denied.

In December, the government announced it was not re-issuing licences for farms in the Discovery Islands, and that operations were to be phased out by June 2022. However, it was not explicitly clear whether transfers of new stocks into the farms prior to that date were allowed.

RELATED: B.C. chiefs say Discovery Island fish farm process did not get reconciliation right

Cermaq made the application in April to transfer 1.5 million Atlantic salmon from Cecil Island near Port McNeill to Venture Point and Brent Island north of Quadra Island. They also applied to extend those licences until February 2023.

“A number of the First Nations consulted continue to strongly oppose salmon aquaculture in this area, and expressed those views during the consultations, notably for reasons related to the conservation and protection of wild salmon stocks and for social and cultural reasons,” reads the response from Rebecca Reid, regional director for DFO’s Pacific Region.

“In the Minister’s view, social acceptability for commercial finfish aquaculture activities in the Discovery Islands area is therefore lacking. This is a compelling social and cultural factor in the management of fisheries that the Minister considered to be of particular importance in assessing the applications. As such, in light of these concerns and of the lack of social acceptability, the Minster has denied the applications,” Reid continued.

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RELATED: Judge grants injunction to restock two B.C. salmon farms

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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