Aquaculture North America

DFO commits to phase out B.C. open net-pen salmon farms by 2025

June 23, 2022
By Maryam Farag

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Joyce Murray has announced a two-year renewal of licenses for marine finfish aquaculture facilities outside of the Discovery Islands, meeting the federal government’s commitment to remove these fish farms by 2025.

In the coming weeks, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will share the draft framework for transitioning from open-net pen salmon aquaculture. The transition plan will rely on input from the Government of British Columbia, First Nations, industry, local governments, stakeholders and British Columbians. Consultations will run until early 2023. The feedback received during these consultations will be instrumental in the development of the final transition plan, expected in spring 2023.

The renewal of licences include stronger requirements for aquaculture facilities, including the implementation of standardized reporting requirements and sea lice management plans, as well as wild salmon monitoring.

Regarding finfish aquaculture facilities in the Discovery Islands, and in response to the April 22, 2022 Federal Court decision, DFO will conduct consultations with First Nations communities and current licence holders in the Discovery Islands on the future of salmon aquaculture licences in this area. These consultations will inform a final decision expected in January 2023 after considering input from all affected parties. While this process is underway, DFO will not reissue licences for Atlantic Salmon facilities in this area.


“Wild Pacific salmon are an iconic keystone species in British Columbia that are facing historic threats. Our government is taking action to protect and return wild salmon to abundance and ensure Canada is a global leader in sustainable aquaculture,” said Minister Murray. “Working together with First Nations, the Province, industry, and British Columbians, we will transition the aquaculture industry to one which leads with new technology, while reducing or eliminating interactions with wild Pacific salmon. We recognize the urgent need for ecologically sustainable aquaculture technology, and we are prepared to work with all partners in a way that is transparent and provides stability in this transition.”

Former fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan decided not to allow renewal of any licences near the Discovery Islands, but a judicial review found that the minister did not consult enough with industry.

The federal government is responsible for salmon farm operation licence issues, while the provincial government is responsible for approving changes to tenures.

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