22 GROUPS CALL FOR END TO TOFINO FISH FARM EXPANSIONS
Tofino BC, 26 April 2023—As fish farms are being closed around British Columbia, Cermaq Canada has requested a fourth permit to expand their operations near Tofino. Cermaq now has only 14 fish farms left in British Columbia—all in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Twenty-two Indigenous, conservation, recreation and business organisations have co-signed a letter to Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, calling on her to stop the expansion of salmon farms near Tofino, and to remove all fish farms from BC waters by 2025.
Clayoquot Sound is the largest temperate rainforest remaining on Vancouver Island. It was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000, when all levels of government acknowledged the global significance of this ecosystem. This rainforest provides prime spawning habitat for wild salmon, which sustain the entire ecosystem here—from orcas, bears, and wolves, to people.
Despite the abundance of spawning habitat, wild salmon populations are in dire straits in Clayoquot Sound, with numbers at all-time historic lows.
Last summer, DFO’s Aquaculture Management Division approved permits to increase production by 25-50% each at three of Cermaq’s Tofino fish farms. The permits were approved with no public consultation or input. Meanwhile, DFO was preparing to engage the public in a discussion about the transition from open-net pens by 2025. Cermaq is currently applying to expand their Fortune Channel farm.
“Wild salmon in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region are on the brink of extinction,” said Dan Lewis, executive director of Tofino-based Clayoquot Action. “They must be protected from fish farm pathogens, parasites and pollution.”
“The overwhelming majority of First Nations in BC oppose the commercial fish farm industry due to title and rights, food security concerns and the detrimental effects it has on wild salmon,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “All First Nations have territories which include either oceans, rivers, streams or lakes, and every First Nation in BC will be affected by DFO’s fish farm decisions, which seriously and severely impact our Title lands and waters. DFO continues to abdicate its legal obligations to First Nations and responsibility to implement the precautionary principle, which is a longstanding legislative tool that should be foundational to all decisions around fish farms. Instead, DFO continues to prioritize the fish farm industry over First Nations title and rights and the survival of wild salmon. ”
“One of the goals of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves is to conserve biological and cultural diversity”, said Kilian Stehfest, Marine Conservation Specialist with David Suzuki Foundation. “An expansion of open net-pen salmon farms which pose a “It beggars belief that Aquaculture Management’s response to the Minister’s mandate to transition open net-pens out of BC waters by 2025 is to increase production capacity,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society.
LIST OF SIGNATORIES:
BC Fly Fishing Federation
Conservancy Hornby Island
David Suzuki Foundation
Department of Wild Salmon
First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance
Georgia Strait Alliance
Global Salmon Farming Resistance
Living Oceans Society
Paul Watson Foundation
Sierra Club BC
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Watershed Watch Society
Wild Fish Conservancy
Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance
Wilderness Tourism Association
For media inquiries: Dan Lewis, Executive Director / 250-726-8136 /
Footage and photos available here: