Cermaq “blinded” by smolt ban

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Thus, alleges the salmon farming company, following the decision of Bernadette Jordan last week to reject the injunction which it had filed which would have allowed the producer to carry out a final transfer of mature smolts to its farms of Brent Island and of Venture Point, British Columbia.

In December, Jordan announced the closure of 19 salmon farming sites in the Discovery Islands by June 30, 2021, following consultations with First Nations in the region, leaving producers such as Cermaq without a place. where to raise juvenile fish that were already in their hatcheries. This prompted Cermaq to seek permission to store a final cohort – a request that was denied last week.

“As an organization, we are perplexed by the decision of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bernadette Jordan, because the salmon farm itself supports so many objectives both of itself and of the Prime Minister Trudeau for the country – from supporting wild salmon to building a strong blue economy, creating food security, fostering reconciliation and helping Canada meet its carbon goals. We know farmed salmon can help support all of these efforts, ”said Cermaq Canada chief executive, David Kiemele, in a press release.

“We are also surprised that the minister has ignored advice from her ministry in favor of what we can only assume to be a political agenda. His recent decision to revoke 60 percent of commercial fishing licenses in British Columbia – again blinds commercial fishermen in their own words – shows his lack of understanding of rural coastal communities, First Nations rights and the reconciliation process , and the role all seafood must play in supporting a growing world population.

According to Cermaq, documents obtained by the company in the course of the legal process show that DFO staff reviewed Cermaq’s application for two final introduction and transfer permits and, based on the existing criteria and the DFO Science, Research and Opinion, recommended that Minister Jordan approve the applications, but ignored him nonetheless.

“Initially, we thought the Liberal Government of Canada was a government that was built on the principles of inclusiveness and was led by a belief and confidence in Canadian-led research and science, as well as a fundamental support for more truth and reconciliation in Canada. Where we are today, it appears that the decisions coming out of Ottawa and Nova Scotia do not actually support these positions, but rather are aimed at securing urban Liberal votes. Once again, a hard-working industry is caught off guard and deemed unimportant in the face of an upcoming election, ”Kiemele added.

Concern for First Nations

Until now, Cermaq Canada has worked with the Wei Wai Kum Nation, on whose territory the two farms are located. In April, the Wei Wai Kum Council voted unanimously in favor of an agreement between the Nation and the Cermaq. The agreement would have enabled the sharing of wild salmon conservation initiatives, an economic transition, capacity building, the creation of a Guardian program (national monitoring of Cermaq’s operations in its territory) and knowledge sharing.

“We are puzzled as to why we are in this position. The Nation and the Cermaq have worked hard to find common ground and offer solutions to Minister Jordan that would not only support her plan to develop a blue economy and support wild salmon, but would also support the comprehensive commitment of Liberal governments to truth and reconciliation in Canada. Says Linda Sams, Director of Sustainable Development at Cermaq Canada.

“In the coming days, we will seek to better understand the decision and contact the Wei Wai Kum Nation to determine how we can support it. Overall, it is a sad day for us as an organization, for our employees and for the local communities who depend on the local industry like salmon farming. It is also a hard blow for the First Nations and their struggle to assert their self-determination and have their rights recognized in their own territories.

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