Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams released his affidavit supporting Grieg Seafood, MOWI Canada West and Cermaq Canada in their quest for a judicial review of the decision to remove fish farms from the Discovery Islands.
Campbell River’s largest economic driver
In his affidavit, Adams pointed out that aquaculture has become the city’s largest economic driver and its loss would have a significant impact on the local economy.
That said, none of the big aquaculture companies made it to the city’s 2019 list of top ten municipal taxpayers.
It has been repeatedly said that closure of the Discovery Island fish farms could result in a loss of 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.
In their February 2021 report on the consequences of shutting down the Discovery Island fish farms, the BC Salmon Farmers Association mentions at least 690 direct salmon farming jobs across the entire
production cycle — broodstock farms, hatcheries, smolt farms, ocean farms, and primary processing.
The most easily identifiable component is the 222 people who actually work on the fish farms, 92 of whom appear to live in Campbell River, Sayward and the Discovery Islands.
Spin off benefits of the fish farms
In his affidavit, Mayor Adams listed some of the businesses that have grown up to support the aquaculture companies: “net-washing businesses, warehouses, labourers, trucking companies, maintenance and repair companies, tire and servicing companies, welders, plumbers, diving companies, painting and building contractors, taxi and shuttle services that get workers from point A to B, tech and innovation companies.”
“ … The aquaculture industry created an environment where people could grow up here in Campbell River and look for training and jobs in the industry instead of moving away.”
This, of course, meant more people buying groceries, eating restaurants and paying their property taxes in Campbell River.
The mayor added that the aquaculture sector was an integral component of Campbell River’s social fabric, “I have seen Mowi and the other aquaculture companies donate huge amounts of farmed salmon to golf events; they have supported the City’s Canada Day celebrations; and I have seen them host barbecue trailers with money going to charitable causes.”
The decision to phase out fish farms
As regards the decision to phase out fish farms, Adams wrote, “… I had always understood that the decision to transition fish-farming in the Discovery Islands would be science-based. But the latest report issued by the DFO in 2020, entitled “Discovery Islands: 2011-2019/2020 Compliance and Performance, Marine Finfish”, stated that the ‘farms in the Discovery Islands are generally very well performing across almost every metric’ and that salmon farms posed minimal risk to wild salmon.”
“… The problem with the Minister’s Decision was not inadequate consultation, there was no consultation.”
The day before the decision was announced, Adams and several other North Island Mayors had a teleconference with the Parliamentary Secretary for the Fisheries Minister to discuss a plan to transition fish-farming net pens by 2025.
He wrote they were not given a hint of what was coming
Links of interest:
- (City of Campbell River) affidavit of Andy Adams, mayor
- (Cortes Currents) North Island mayors support fish farms
- (Cortes Currents) Phasing out one of Campbell River’s three economic pillars
- Report of the Campbell River Business Recovery Task Force
- (DFO) Discovery Islands 2011-2019/2020 compliance and performance, marine finfish
This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.