The Government of British Columbia will establish rigorous new rules and expectations for the renewal of salmon farm tenures in B.C. waters.
“The challenges facing our wild salmon have been ignored for far too long,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “That’s why we are putting in place a new approach to provide clarity and outline our expectations moving forward for a sustainable industry that protects wild salmon, embraces reconciliation, and provides good jobs.”
The new requirements provide clarity on the salmon farming tenure process, establishing key criteria for tenures past 2022.
“We need to take the necessary steps — steps that should have been taken years ago — to ensure that fish farm operations do not put wild salmon stocks in jeopardy,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The thousands of British Columbians who rely on our clean ocean waters for jobs, culture and recreation expect no less.”
Effective June 2022, the Province will grant Land Act tenures only to fish farm operators who have satisfied Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that their operations will not adversely impact wild salmon stocks, and who have negotiated agreements with the First Nation(s) in whose territory they propose to operate.
A key court ruling in 2009 clarified that the federal government has the exclusive jurisdiction for regulating fisheries, including fish farms.
“We will look to DFO to bring the best science to determining where and under what conditions open-pen fish farms can operate without threatening wild salmon and other species,” Popham said.
The year 2022 aligns with the current renewal date of the substantial majority of fish licences issued by DFO. Operations with expired provincial tenures, or tenures that expire before June 2022, may operate with month-to-month tenures.
In addition to aligning with the expiry date of the majority of federal fish licences, the Province will give notice of the change in expectations to fish farm operators. This will give operators time to adapt their operations to requirements established by DFO, strengthen their relationships with First Nations, and make investment decisions.
The Province and Broughton-area First Nations are continuing discussions, which began Jan. 30, 2018, to resolve concerns regarding specific farms in the Broughton Archipelago. This announcement does not pre-determine the outcome of those discussions.
A backgrounder follows.