Action Needed on Clayoquot Salmon Farms
DFO quietly increasing production despite the Transition Plan
Tofino BC, 26 April 2023—As fish farms are being closed around British Columbia, Cermaq Canada has requested a fourth permit to expand their operations near Tofino. Cermaq now has only 14 fish farms left in British Columbia—all in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Twenty-two conservation and Indigenous groups have co-signed a letter to Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, calling on her to stop the expansion of salmon farms near Tofino, and to remove all fish farms from BC waters by 2025.
Clayoquot Sound is the largest temperate rainforest remaining on Vancouver Island. It was designated 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.
Last summer, DFO’s Aquaculture Management Division approved permits to increase production by 25-50% each at three of Cermaq’s Tofino fish farms. The permits were approved with no public consultation or input. Meanwhile, DFO was preparing to engage the public in a discussion about the transition from open-net pens by 2025.
“Wild salmon in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region are on the brink of extinction” said Dan Lewis, executive director of Tofino-based Clayoquot Action. “They must be protected from fish farm pathogens, parasites and pollution.”
“It beggars belief that the Department’s response to the Minister’s mandate to transition open netpens out of BC waters is to increase their production capacity,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society.
Read the full text of the letter here.
Karen Wristen, Executive Director: 604-788-5634 kwristen [at] livingoceans.org