Wild salmon populations are close to collapse in British Columbia. With all the debate about salmon farming, you’d think fish farm companies would see the writing on the wall. But it appears not. Cermaq is making five applications right now to expand their operations near Tofino, in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region. And two have already been approved!
Expanding production and feedlot size
Cermaq (a Norwegian company wholly owned by Mitsubishi) has applied to increase production by 50% at two Clayoquot facilities. The Millar Channel site is of particular concern due to the presence of Cermaq’s failed experimental semi-closed (SCCS) facility. When the SCCS was installed in 2020, Cermaq reduced the size of the adjacent open-net pens. Now they want their full open-net pen farm back, in addition to the semi-closed system. We will be watching closely to see how many fish the Department of Fisheries will allow Cermaq to rear at this site—if they get the permit.
The second application for a production increase is Bawden Bay in Herbert Arm, where there are already three other fish farms. The last time Cermaq applied to expand their Clayoquot operations was in 2014. The Herbert Arm application was rejected in 2015. One of the reasons provided: this inlet does not offer the kind of circulation needed to flush away fish farm waste…
A cynical move on Cermaq’s part?
Cermaq is also applying to increase the size of pens at five of their Clayoquot operations. What kind of business would expand facilities if they weren’t intending to increase production? Is this some sort of cynical move on Cermaq’s part: at first “we only want to increase the size of the pens”, but then “hey! since the pens are so much bigger we might as well fill them with fish!”?
It is outrageous that DFO would even consider increasing fish farm capacity or production levels in Clayoquot Sound. This is heading in the opposite direction of the federal government’s commitment to remove salmon farms from B.C. waters by 2025.
Minister is committed to removal by 2025
Meanwhile the Minister’s office stated in a National Observer article that Minister Murray is absolutely committed to phasing out open-net pen salmon farms in British Columbia by 2025.
All federal salmon farm licenses in BC expire next June. So the big decisions about whether to renew those licenses and for how long will have to be made before June (see page 2 of introduction). The coming six months will be crucial for the future of wild salmon—the time for action is now!
Please send a letter to new Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray and ask her to stop the expansion in Clayoquot Sound and to continue on the path of removing fish farms from BC waters by 2025. Take action here.
Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.