Courtenay-Alberni candidates takes sides on fish farms

Published on October 9, 2019

The Hydrolicer, a new barge designed by Cermaq to clean farmed salmon of lice, is docked in Tofino.

Vancouver Island, BC — 

Aquaculture provides jobs for thousands of people in British Columbia – particularly in coastal communities with limited economic opportunity. But many fear that fish farms are harming the migration of wild salmon by spreading disease and disrupting the ocean’s ecological balance. Do you support net pens remaining in the ocean?

Byron Horner, Conservative:

I support abundant and sustainable wild salmon stocks through enhancement, habitat restoration and enforcement, and the local jobs that come from responsible salmon farming. On land, closed containment salmon farming is not currently economically viable so rather than banning anything outright, we should take a science-based approach that fills in the knowledge gaps and settles conflicting science about fish farming. Wild salmon and all that they represent – culturally, environmentally and economically – appear at risk but fish farming is an important Nuu Chah Nulth employer. Let’s settle the science on this and move forward in a transparent and fair manner.

Jonah Gowans, Liberal:

The Liberal Party of Canada is committing to transitioning all open net-pen salmon farming to closed containment systems by 2025. I believe this transition is fair, while also placing the proper importance on protecting our wild salmon.

Sean Wood, Green:

Ocean acidification, increased water temperatures and decreased oxygen levels associated with climate change are threatening all fisheries, even those that are sustainably managed. In the face of this threat, we must do everything possible to minimize the stresses that we can control, giving the ocean its best chance to adapt to changing conditions.

By 2025, the Green Party commits to move all open-net pen finfish aquaculture facilities into closed containment systems on land. As with land farmers transitioning from conventional production, we will provide financial and extension support to workers and coastal communities to make the transition to land-based aquaculture.

Gord Johns, NDP:

We are blessed with the world’s longest coastline and fisheries that sustain us as coastal people. Fishing is a deep-rooted part of Nuu-chah-nulth culture and those who depend economically on fishing need a government working with them to build a strong and sustainable future. In order to protect wild Pacific salmon, I support the Cohen Commission recommendations and promise to work with British Columbia and First Nations to support the transition of fish farms to land-based closed-containment systems. I will continue to push for compensation for all workers and their families who may be affected by this transition.