Canada outlines next steps in transition from open-net pen salmon farming in British Columbia

Ottawa  – Wild Pacific salmon are of great importance to communities in British Columbia, both culturally and economically. However, wild Pacific salmon are facing historic threats and experiencing significant population declines. It is a Government of Canada priority to protect and restore our oceans and coasts. Part of that work includes a mandate commitment to transition from open-net pen salmon aquaculture in British Columbia’s coastal waters in a manner that protects wild salmon, the environment, and the economy.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, announced the next steps to transition from open-net pen salmon aquaculture in British Columbia, while establishing Canada as a world leader for the next-generation aquaculture industry.

To grow an industry that remains profitable and sustainable, that also measurably reduces or eliminates environmental impacts on wild fish, the transition must be progressively phased in and predictable.

In the coming weeks, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will share the draft framework for transitioning from open-net pen salmon aquaculture. The transition plan will rely on input from the Government of British Columbia, First Nations, industry, local governments, stakeholders, and British Columbians. Consultations will run until early 2023. The feedback received during these consultations will be instrumental in the development of the final transition plan, expected in spring 2023.

While the transition is being developed, the Minister today also announced a two-year renewal of licences for marine finfish aquaculture facilities outside of the Discovery Islands. These licences include stronger requirements for aquaculture facilities, including the implementation of standardized reporting requirements and sea lice management plans, as well as wild salmon monitoring, all of which will improve the management of the salmon aquaculture industry and help protect wild salmon stocks and their habitat. Today’s decision follows two years of engagement with partners and stakeholders on these new measures. It will allow the industry to continue to operate within the current regulations while the transition plan is being collaboratively developed to define the future of the industry.

Regarding finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, and in response to the April 22, 2022 Federal Court decision, DFO will conduct consultations with First Nations communities and current licence holders in the Discovery Islands on the future of salmon aquaculture licences in this area. These consultations will inform a final decision expected in January 2023 after considering input from all affected parties. While this process is underway, DFO will not reissue licences for Atlantic Salmon facilities in this area.