Aquaculture North America

DFO looks to closed containment to replace B.C. salmon net pens by 2029

June 19, 2024
By Jean Ko Din

DFO Min. Diane Lebouthillier, on left, announced the Canadian government's five-year plan to ban B.C. salmon net pen farming by 2029.

The Canadian government will be issuing nine-year licenses for closed containment projects on land and sea as part of its transition plan to ban open-net salmon farming.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) minister, Hon. Diane Lebouthillier, held a press conference on June 19 that formally announced its five-year transitional plan to ban net-pen salmon farming on the coasts of British Columbia.

Current salmon farming licenses which were slated to expire on June 30 this year will be renewed on July 1 for another five years until June 30, 2029. Min. Lebouthillier said that these renewals will come with “stricter conditions that will, among other things, strengthen the protection of wildlife and the marine environment.”

Vancouver Granville MP Taleeb Noormohamed reiterated the DFO’s assurance for a “responsible, realistic, and achievable” transition to ban salmon farming in B.C. which will involve the issuance of nine-year licenses for closed-containment aquaculture projects.

This five-year transitional plan is set to be published by end of July. Multiple governmental departments are expected to participate in “coordinated consultations with those directly and indirectly affected by the transition,” said Lebouthillier, as translated from French by a live interpreter.

A final transition plan is slated to be released by 2025.

Andrea Cyr, executive head of the Pacific Aquaculture Transition at the DFO, told Aquaculture North America that the office does not currently have any applications under review, but they will be processed for consideration as they come in starting July 1.

“There isn’t a specific number (of licenses to be issued), recognizing that there’s a broad range of the scale of closed-containment operations. So, we hope to be able to replace or encourage significant investment in closed containment in British Columbia but without a specific target,” said Cyr.

More than 65,800 tonnes of salmon is currently being produced annually in open-net farms in British Columbia.

“Thousands of hours have been spent by employees and partners on developing reasonable, realistic and achievable plans to support the federal government’s objectives. None of these are reflected in the announcement before us today,” said Tim Kennedy, executive director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) in a press release. “We will continue to work with our partners and for the communities in which we work for a realistic, reasonable and achievable pathway forward as originally promised by Minister Lebouthillier.”

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