VICTORIA, B.C. – Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for wild salmon, says the province’s policy on salmon farms announced by the B.C. government today continues to put wild salmon at risk and fails to address the concerns of First Nations province-wide. The province announced that in four years, government is going to require fish farming companies to not adversely impact wild salmon and have agreements with the nations whose territory they are operating and polluting in.
“Frankly, I am embarrassed for our province that the measures that will be implemented in four years are not already happening,” said Olsen. “It’s like surgeons announcing that starting in 2022 they are going to start washing their hands before procedures. This should have been the standard all along. The government of B.C. has just sold out wild salmon and are using First Nations as cover. Allowing fish farming to continue as is for four more years is a failure of leadership in Victoria.”
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada summarized their audit of fish farms and DFO by saying: “We concluded that Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not adequately manage the risks associated with salmon aquaculture consistent with its mandate to protect wild fish.”
“DFO has proven to be absent, at best, and negligent, at worst, when it comes to protecting wild salmon,“ Olsen continued. “Given their track record, we do not trust DFO to be an authority on whether fish farms are adversely impacting wild salmon stocks. The B.C. Greens would have given industry the 18 months needed to grow and harvest smolts already in their pens, an additional 60 days to decommission their sites, and then we would have cancelled their provincial tenures.”
DFO’s 2018 salmon outlook for B.C. states that of 91 different groupings of salmon, only 28 are expected to be at or above the amount necessary for a healthy population.
“Unfortunately, fish farms are one of several threats facing wild salmon. Our wild salmon are also at risk due to habitat loss, climate change and poor management. I will continue to focus my efforts on pushing government to take action in these other areas through the newly appointed Wild Salmon Advisory Council and wild salmon secretariat that will directly advise the Premier. ”
MLA Olsen publicly released his Standing up for Wild Salmon report on May 16th after months of consultation and legislative work. The report outlined the challenges facing B.C.’s wild salmon populations and highlighted a proposed path forward.