For or against fish farms in the ocean? Cowichan–Malahat–Langford candidates give their views

Published on October 9, 2019

Net pens in Nootka Sound.

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?

Blair Herbert, Liberal:

This is a complex topic; Blair would look to work through the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund for the answer to this question.  This Fund was established in partnership with the provincial government; the Liberal government is contributing 70% of the funding.  The Fund’s priorities are:

1.            Restoration and maintenance of healthy salmon populations and habitats,

2.            Improved performance and sustainability of fisheries, and

3.            Sustainability of the aquaculture industry to ensure the conservation of marine ecosystems and wild fish populations.

Of equal importance, this Fund is committed to collaborating with Indigenous groups, industry and academic communities for solutions.

Alistair MacGregor, NDP:

Protecting our wild Pacific salmon has been a top priority for me. I have risen in the House of Commons countless times to ask the Liberal government to do more to protect our wild Pacific salmon by increasing habitat protection, providing funding for infrastructure adaption projects, and moving open-net fish farms from wild salmon migration routes to land-based closed-containment.

I was proud to support my NDP colleague, Fin Donnelly’s Bill C-228 which would have required the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to create a transition plan from harmful open-net pens to safe, closed containment systems. Unfortunately, the government squashed it.

Lydia Hwitsum, Green:

NO. We need to work with provincial governments to eliminate aquaculture practices that damage the marine environment and threaten human health. There must be a moratorium on new open-ocean net-pen salmon farms and a phase-out of existing farms.

The Greens will give funding priority to small-scale projects to restore and enhance wild fish stocks, especially with Aboriginal peoples and traditional fishing communities using traditional technologies. Sustainably managed closed pen containment mitigates the significant risk to our wild salmon caused by open net pens.

Conservative candidate Alana Delong did not respond to Ha-Shilth-Sa's question on this issue.