Salmon farming is a significant local employer in Northern Vancouver Island. According to a recent report there are 572 Campbell River, Sayward and the Discovery Islands residents working in this sector. 702 people are said to have indirect jobs, which means the industry is bringing about $324 million a year into the local economy. Another 512 direct and indirect jobs, representing $135 million, are in Port Hardy and Port McNeill.
Mayors supporting Sea Farms
Thus it is not surprising that the mayors of Campbell River, Gold River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and key aquaculture industry leaders sent a joint letter to the Ministry of Fisheries, protesting the decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands.
Mayor Andy Adams announced the extent of the mayor’s support during the January 11, 2021 meeting of the Campbell River City Council.
“Speaking on behalf of myself, Mayor Baker of Sayward, Mayor Unger of Gold River, Mayor Dugas of Port Hardy, Mayor Wickstrom of Port McNeill, we have all been working in collaboration together for the industries, staff and employees and residents of the North Island. While we recognize that there is nothing more important than the preservation of wild salmon stocks, we are of course in Campbell River, the salmon capital of the world,” he began.
“ … We have seen the evolution of aquaculture here on the North Island. It is science based, with the innovation and technology that have made it the number one agricultural export for the province of British Columbia and that industry is at risk.”
“That is 1,500 employees in the North Island. It is people’s lives, people’s jobs and all the family and friends around them that are adversely impacted.”
“So I can tell you that this group of mayors have been working right through the holidays, every single day. reaching out to the powers that be at the Provincial and Federal level. We had a video conference Friday with Minister Kahlon, MLA Babchuk and Minister Osborne reviewing the economic impact. We were to have a video conference this morning with MP Blaney, however that got sidetracked and is now trying to be rescheduled with the parties that we agree should be there. We are also working to set up a conference call with Minister Jordan”
Mayor Adams added that the mayors are also in communications with people supporting open net salmon farms on the Atlantic coast.
He concluded, “I want to say to all of those that have worked in the industry through our economic recovery task force, as we have done with forestry in the past, we are going to stand up and speak on your behalf, for you and in support of you. And in support of dealing with the facts of science, technology and innovation.”
Links of Interest:
- (Cortes Currents) articles about the Mayors actions in support of fish farms
- (Cortes Currents) articles about the Discovery Island fish farms
- (Cortes Currents) Articles about a Transition Plan for the Discovery Islands
- (BC Salmon Farmers) Open letter to Minister Jordan: Your decision to close Discovery Island area salmon farms puts at risk 1,500 rural coastal jobs
Top photo credit: Campbell River Fish Docks by Brandy Saturley via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)
This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.