Tavish Campbell/contributed photo

Tavish Campbell/contributed photo

Salmon advocates celebrate Canada removing salmon farms in the Discovery Islands

Originally published by Our Sound, Our Salmon

On Dec. 24, in a truly inspiring victory for wild Pacific salmon, orcas, and British Columbia First Nations, the Canadian government agreed to phase out all open-water salmon farms in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands near Campbell River over the next 18 months.

This historic decision is the result of the unwavering dedication and direct action of the British Columbia First Nations and their supporters. For years, they have called on Canada’s local and federal officials to end net-pen salmon farms in their traditional waters where they operate without the Nations’ consent. These facilities further contribute to the decline of British Columbia’s imperiled salmon runs and threaten the way of life, food security, and the health of the environment of First Nations coastwide.

This new agreement is the largest and latest success by British Columbia First Nations to demand the removal of net pens in their traditional waters. Last year, in a historic negotiation, First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago successfully advocated for the Canadian government to require the immediate removal of five farms and the decommissioning of the remaining twelve by 2023.

We commend the hard work and dedication of the Discovery Islands First Nations, as well as First Nations and Tribal Nations coastwide, who continue to lead this inspiring effort to protect wild salmon and end this dangerous industry throughout the Pacific coast.

This fall, following a major sea lice outbreak known to have infected 97 percent of juvenile salmon migrating near the infected Discovery Island pens, 101 British Columbia First Nations and their supporters called on the Canadian government for the removal of all Discovery Islands salmon farms, asking they be moved to land-based closed-containment systems.

The group called for the government to uphold a key recommendation of the Cohen Commission (which published its landmark study on how to reverse the decline of Fraser River salmon in 2012) to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands by Sept. 30, 2020, if they continued to pose a risk to wild salmon. Read the letter Our Sound, Our Salmon delivered to Canada’s leaders standing in solidarity with British Columbia First Nations at https://bit.ly/3hmPIaB.

The removal of these 19 facilities within the Discovery Islands represents a major victory and a huge step forward for our coastwide, international coalition and shared effort to end commercial net-pen aquaculture throughout the Pacific coast. Salmon have no borders, and neither does our shared advocacy to end this dangerous practice coastwide.