Océans en santé. Communautés en santé

Discovery Islands Salmon Farm Closure December, 2020

By order of Fisheries Minister Jordan, in December, 2020, federal licences for the salmon farms located in the Discovery Islands were renewed only until June, 2022. 

At the same time, she ordered that no new transfers of fish would be permitted into these farms. As most were fallow or harvesting at the time, the effect of the order was to remove farmed salmon from an important early part of the migration route of wild Fraser River salmon before the 2021 outmigration of juvenile fish. The impact was dramatic: in contrast to the 2020 outmigration, when 99% of juveniles carried lethal lice loads, in 2021 the fish were virtually free of lice.

The Discovery Islands were dubbed "The Wild Salmon Narrows" during the hearings of the Cohen Commission (into the 'disappearance' of sockeye salmon from the Fraser River in 2009) because the archipelago is a 'choke point' in the route followed by the Fraser salmon and many other runs during their migration to the open ocean.  The relatively narrow waterways operate to concentrate lice and pathogens from salmon farms in the water column and ensure that passing wild salmon are exposed to both at an early stage in migration, when several species of salmon are very small and without protective scales. Living Oceans and conservation colleagues argued at the hearings that early marine survival of wild salmon was compromised by the 'soup' of pathogens and parasites through which they were required to swim.

This map shows the farms affected by the Ministerial order.  All of the salmon farming companies affected brought Court proceedings to try to overturn the order, but failed to obtain injunctive relief that would enable them to restock the farms in 2021. At the date of publication of this map, judicial review proceedings are under way, challenging the Minister's authority to close the farms in the way that she did.

Modified: November 15, 2021

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