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Canada takes next step in transition away from open-net salmon farming in BC. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is taking the next step to transition from open-net pen aquaculture in British Columbia coastal waters. The transition will require a strong plan that outlines how to proceed, in a way that greatly minimises or eliminates risk to wild salmon, while also taking into account social, cultural and economic factors.

To that end, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, has released a discussion framework which outlines a proposed vision for open-net pen transition in British Columbia. The Minister also launched the next round of stakeholder engagement on the future of the aquaculture sector in British Columbia. This will build on previous engagement undertaken by the Department in 2020 and 2021 and takes into account the evolution of aquaculture management in response to emerging science and research.

The proposed framework and engagement approach will help guide the engagement with the Province, First Nations, industry, conservation organisations, and British Columbians, and take into account diverse views on aquaculture. Over the coming months, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will gather input through roundtables with Indigenous leaders, local governments, key stakeholders, and conservation organisations; bilateral meetings with First Nations and provincial governments; consultations with First Nations; the aquaculture industry and key stakeholder leaders; and online public engagement. Information received during these sessions will help shape a transition plan built on four objectives:

  • Create a pathway for existing aquaculture operations to adopt alternative production methods that minimise or eliminate interactions between farmed and wild salmon;
  • Improve transparency on how the government assesses and responds to new scientific information to build confidence and trust in how aquaculture is managed;
  • Provide greater opportunities for collaborative planning and decision-making with First Nations partners; and,
  • Advance innovation and attracting investment to support the adoption of alternative production technologies in British Columbia.

The input and feedback received during these engagement sessions will be instrumental in the development and implementation of the open-net pen transition plan, expected to be finalized in Spring 2023.

Joyce Murray said:

“Wild Pacific salmon are at risk of disappearing forever if we don’t act; that’s why the Government of Canada is taking a wide range of actions to halt and reverse their declining population. We will continue to chart the course forward for aquaculture in British Columbia, one that will support the ecologically sustainable growth of the industry, create jobs, and help keep our waters and marine ecosystems protected. As the world’s appetite for high-quality fish and seafood continues to grow, we need to find better and innovative ways to farm fish and protect wild Pacific salmon stocks. A well-developed transition plan is the first step to growing a viable and sustainable industry in British Columbia.”

Quick facts

  • Global demand for seafood is increasing  and the aquaculture industry in Canada produces over $1 billion in fish and seafood products every year.
  • In Canada, 45 different species of finfish, shellfish, and marine algae are cultivated commercially; finfish accounts for most production and value.
  • On June 22, Minister Murray announced the two-year renewal of aquaculture licences for B.C. facilities outside the Discovery Islands, in order to allow time for the development of a sound transition plan.
  • The Government of Canada previously undertook engagement in 2020, 2021 and early 2022, collected views on transitioning the salmon aquaculture sector.