22 groups call for end to fish farm expansions

26 April, 2023

Dear Minister Murray,

Thank you for taking steps to protect wild salmon by removing fish farms from the Discovery Islands.

Clayoquot Sound is the largest temperate rainforest remaining on Vancouver Island. It was recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000, when all levels of government acknowledged the global significance of this ecosystem.

This rainforest provides prime spawning habitat for wild salmon, which sustain the entire ecosystem here—from orcas, bears, and wolves, to people.

Despite the abundance of spawning habitat, wild salmon populations are in dire straits in Clayoquot Sound, with numbers at all-time historic lows.

Clayoquot Sound is also host to 20 open-net pen salmon farms—the highest concentration remaining in British Columbia.

There is no social license for these facilities in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where thousands of citizens took a stand to protect ancient rainforests thirty years ago. As you know, 75% of British Columbians want salmon farms removed from the ocean.

Somehow, during your transition planning period, three salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound have been allowed to expand, increasing production at those farms by between 25-50%. And now a fourth application is being reviewed by DFO’s Aquaculture Management Division, with no public input.

It is unacceptable that fish farms are being allowed to expand in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at the same time they are being removed from other parts of the coast in order to protect wild salmon.

Wild salmon in Clayoquot are not surviving the current levels of production. And bigger farms mean more pathogens and parasites will be amplified, spreading to wild salmon.

We believe that independent science is clear that salmon farms are having population-level impacts on wild salmon. To the extent there is any uncertainty around this, the Precautionary Principle requires you to act prudently and cautiously in order to protect such important species as Pacific Salmon from extinction.

Any stressor we have control over must be managed—failure is not an option. Removing salmon farms from BC waters is one tool you have to protect wild salmon.

Minister Murray, your primary responsibility is to protect wild salmon. We the undersigned 22 organisations respectfully ask that you stop the expansion of fish farms Clayoquot Sound, and remove all salmon farms from BC waters by 2025.

Sincerely,

Clayoquot Action
BC Fly Fishing Federation
Conservancy Hornby Island
David Suzuki Foundation
Department of Wild Salmon
First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance
Georgia Strait Alliance
Global Salmon Farming Resistance
Greenpeace
Living Oceans Society
Paul Watson Foundation
Sea Legacy
Sierra Club BC
Surfrider Canada
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Vancouver Unitarians
Watershed Watch Society
Wild First
Wild Fish Conservancy
Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance
Wilderness Committee
Wilderness Tourism Association

Photo by Sander Jain.

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