The Strathcona Regional District Board (SRD) decided to not support the DFO decision to remove open net pen aquaculture from the Discovery Islands.
Virtually a foregone conclusion
This was virtually a foregone conclusion, even before Cortes Island Regional Director Noba Anderson put forward a motion of support at the May 26th Board meeting. Five of the SRD’s 14 Directors come from Campbell River, where fish farms are one of the city’s key first dollar industries. Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams and Director Charlie Cornfield have already spoken in support of this sector. The industry also has hatcheries in Sayward and Gold River, whose mayors have spoken on its behalf.
SRD not consulted
“I will not be supporting the motion. We have not been consulted, not been involved and not been engaged in this process what-so-ever. We have repeatedly said we want to be engaged by them and they failed to do it,” said Cornfield.
“This decision was not based on science. The Minister (of Fisheries) said so in her letter. It was not based on science, it was not based on expert recommendation but was to obtain social license and that was from the honourable Jordan – and I use the term honourable very lightly.”
Regional Director Brenda Leigh added, “How can you take a hard position on supporting the closure of these fish farms, when you are still asking to be consulted?”
Supporting our constituents
Cornfield stressed the fact that the people employed on fish farms are the SRD’s constituents.
“They are all of our people. It’s their families and their children.It is their people who use our schools that give us the quality of education we want. They give us all our recreation facilities. They are the taxpayers who pay for all of this, pay for our salaries and they are the ones being put at risk. I do not care if you live in an electoral area, or inside a municipality, those constituents are there. It is our duty to stand up and make sure their interests are represented,” he said.
Campbell River Director Ron Kerr said he supported the men and women working in the aquaculture industry and their families.
Directors with fish farms in their areas support the DFO Decision
Ironically, the two directors with fish farms in their areas, Regional Director Jim Abram of Discovery Island – Mainland Inlets and Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis, – both spoke in favour of the motion to support the DFO.
Abram pointed out that the aquaculture sector came into being in his area, adding that if the SRD wants to be part of the discussion they should vote in favour of the motion to support the DFO’s decision.
Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis said he wished this motion was to phase out fish farms throughout the SRD.
“In my community we depend of sports fishing. We’ve seen severe declines since fish farms have come into this area. The sea lice outbreaks and algal outbreaks are well documented” he began.
“Because we depend on sport fishing, we are losing work here because of the actions of fish farms on our side of the waters. So it is a bit disingenuous to say we are losing jobs everywhere. Your actions here are actually harming us.”
The Decision has been made
Cortes Islands Director Anderson acknowledged the fact that that fish farms are an important part of the economy, especially in Campbell River.
“What I am seeing is that this decision has been made and I do not expect it will be reconsidered. I would like us to be in a position of cooperation with the Federal Government, to assist in any possible way we can with this transition – in support of the industry, in support of our economy, in support of (wild) fish, tourism – the whole sector,” she said.
SRD will not support DFO Decision
The motion was voted down by nine opposing Directors:
- Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams
- Sayward Mayor Mark Baker,
- Campbell River Director Charlie Cornfield,
- Campbell River Alternate Director Kermit Dahl
- Campbell River Director Colleen Evans,
- Campbell River Director Ron Kerr,
- Regional Director Brenda Leigh of Area D (Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake)
- Chair, and Gold River Mayor, Brad Unger,
- Regional Director Gerald Whalley of Area A (Kyuquot/Nootka-Sayward)
There was no need to tally the Directors supporting the motion. Thus we do not know if all of the following Directors would all have voted ‘yes,’ three said they would.
- Regional Director Noba Anderson of Area B (Cortes Island)
- Regional Director Jim Abram of Area C (Discovery Island-Mainland Inlets)
- Mayor Julie Colborne of Zeballos
- Mayor Martin Davis of Tahsis
- Kevin Jules representing the Kyuquot/Checlesaht First Nations
Links of Interest:
- (SRD) Wild Salmon in Danger
- (Cortes Currents) Wilderness Tourism Association asks the SRD to support DFOs decision
- (Cortes Currents) Aquaculture presentation to SRD board
- (Cortes Currents) Two local environmentalists speak out in favour of DFOs decision
- (Cortes Currents) Two competing fish farm presentations
- (Cortes Currents) Tahsis supports decision to phase out fish farms
- (Cortes Currents) Mayor Andy Adams affidavit made public
- (Cortes Currents) North Vancouver Island Mayors support fish farms
- (Cortes Currents) SRD protests DFOs failure to consult
Top photo credit: screenshot from YouTube of SRD Board Meeting, clockwise from top left: Chair Brad Unger; Regional Director Jim Abram; Mayor Andy Adamsof Campbell River; Director Colleen Evans of Campbell River; CAO David Leitch
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