PSF STATEMENT: Government of Canada outlines next steps in transition from open-net-pen salmon farming in British Columbia

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Open-net pens in B.C>

June 22, 2022

Today, just before the vast majority of B.C. salmon farm licenses were set to expire, the Government of Canada has issued an update on their mandate to transition away from open-net pen salmon aquaculture in British Columbia.

The statement outlines work anticipated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) over the course of the next year to develop the draft framework for transitioning away from open-net-pen salmon aquaculture by 2025.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) has appreciated the opportunity to participate in and contribute to early phases of transition consultations with the Hon. Joyce Murray and DFO, and we look forward to further consultation to advance this mandate for the future health of wild Pacific salmon. Our team has been at the forefront of independent science related to the impacts open-net-pen fish farms have on wild Pacific salmon. The research (see links below) will continue.

The government’s announcement also clarified that the Minister will renew licenses for only two-years, in the case of marine finfish aquaculture facilities outside of the Discovery Islands – far shorter than the historical license renewal period.

PSF is encouraged by the two-year renewal as a strong signal from the Minister that the removal of salmon farms is nearing. We are also optimistic about the suggestion of tightened standards related to monitoring and sea lice management, as research has shown disease transfer between open-net fish farms and wild salmon as well as higher levels of sea lice near active farms. We will be scrutinizing DFO’s new licensing standards in the coming days.

The decision to not renew licences for Atlantic salmon facilities in the Discovery Islands, pending further consultations, is a win for some of our most at-risk wild salmon populations in B.C, including imperilled Fraser River sockeye.

Here at PSF, the Salmon Health team will continue working in partnership with DFO, First Nations and many other collaborators  on  vital research and monitoring related to the impacts of open-net-pen salmon farms on wild Pacific salmon. For more information on this research, visit here.

Related PSF Salmon Health Research Findings:


Photo above by Tavish Campbell.