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Responsible, Realistic, and Achievable: The Government of Canada announces  transition from open net-pen salmon aquaculture in coastal British Columbia

June 19, 2024 at 1:36 pm  Federal, Politics

June 19, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario – Wild Pacific salmon are an emblematic species in British Columbia that face unprecedented threats to their survival. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting wild salmon and promoting more sustainable aquaculture practices.

Today, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that the Government of Canada will ban open net-pen salmon aquaculture in British Columbia coastal waters by June 30, 2029.

A number of First Nations, coastal communities, and others in British Columbia rely on open net-pen aquaculture for their livelihood and prosperity. The Government of Canada will release a draft salmon aquaculture transition plan by the end of July, that will focus on:

  • how to support First Nations, workers, and communities in this transition;
  • identifying economic supports for the use of innovative and clean aquaculture technology;
  • milestones, principles, and criteria for the transition of salmon open net-pen aquaculture over the five-year licence period; and,
  • management of salmon open net-pen aquaculture until the ban is fully implemented.

Over the coming months, federal departments, as part of a whole-of-government effort, will engage with those directly and indirectly affected by this transition to discuss how best to support them. This transition only applies to aquaculture practices in British Columbia, where Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the lead regulator for aquaculture. Elsewhere in Canada, where provinces and territories are the lead regulator, Fisheries and Oceans Canada respects their jurisdiction.

To facilitate a successful transition, Minister Lebouthillier also announced her intention to renew salmon aquaculture licences for five years. Effective July 1, 2024, these licences will come with stricter conditions to ensure improved management of sea lice on farmed fish, robust reporting requirements for industry, and additional monitoring of marine mammal interactions. These conditions will strengthen protections for wild species and the marine environment, while ensuring aquaculture facilities can operate safely during this transition period.

After July 1, 2024, only marine or land-based closed-containment systems will be considered for salmon aquaculture licences in coastal British Columbia. The Government of Canada recognizes that such systems are likely to come with increased investment costs. To provide greater predictability, Minister Lebouthillier also announced her intention to issue nine-year licences to successful closed-containment production applicants.

Over the past several years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans heard a wide range of opinions, concerns, and views on open net-pen salmon aquaculture in coastal British Columbia. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring a responsible, realistic, and achievable transition that will encourage innovative forms of aquaculture production for a more sustainable future.

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