Biodiversity protection

Get the nets out!

Aerial of Discovery Island Passage

2023 could be the year when it all changes for wild Pacific salmon. It could be the year when we finally win the fight against open-net fish farms in BC waters!

So why is it that this year could be such an important milestone? It’s because this fall we are expecting the release of the transition plan for open-net fish farms out of BC waters. This plan will lay out all the steps that will lead to the end of open-net fish farms in BC waters, including a time frame for when salmon will be completely free from the parasites and viruses from these farms.

We are holding the government accountable for the promise they made back in 2019 to get all open-net fish farms out of BC water by 2025 and we won’t settle for half measures that could allow other types of in-water technologies to be used to farm salmon in BC.

Wild salmon are running out of time. The only way to move forward and secure a brighter future for wild stocks is to take all salmon aquaculture nets out of BC waters once and for all.

Here is a breakdown of some of the groundbreaking decisions that have already happened in 2023, and other important ones we are expecting:

Discovery Islands

Let’s celebrate victories, especially when they’re as huge as the eviction of fish farms from the Discovery Islands! On February 19, 2023, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced that she would not be renewing the licenses of 15 open-net fish farms in the Discovery Islands. This after the previous decision of not renewing these licenses, made by the former Minister, was set aside by the federal judge in 2022. This after the previous decision of not renewing these licenses, made by the former Minister, was set aside by a federal judge in 2022.

For the first time in decades, out-migrating wild salmon will be free from the parasites and disease that seep through the open-net pens that have housed infected Atlantic salmon for decades.

Getting these nets out was possible only with the leadership and stewardship of local First Nations, who were heard and respected by Minister Murray. The Minister also cited their reliance on science and the precautionary approach that points to open-net fish farms as a threat to the vulnerable health of wild
Pacific salmon.

This was a huge win for migrating Fraser River salmon and we look forward to seeing the positive effects it has on their health!

Broughton Archipelago

One of the biggest wins for wild Pacific salmon in 2023 has been the complete removal of open-net fish farms from the Broughton archipelago after decades of advocacy by First Nations, individuals, researchers and community groups, like GSA.

This historic success, however, would not have been possible without the leadership and tireless work of the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, and Mamalilikulla First Nations who chose not to consent to the continuous operation of this industry on their territories.

What’s next

At GSA we are working hard to ensure that the transition plan specifies the removal of all open-net salmon farms from BC waters by 2025 and the prohibition of any type of in-water technologies from entering BC waters in the future. We will also be looking for a clear and just path for workers and communities to transition away from this industry.

Stay informed/Get involved:

A strong foundation: Why was 2022 so important to get us here?

  1. The decision to phase out the 19 fish farms in the Discovery Islands was set aside by a federal judge. The ruling was based on procedural fairness and a requirement that the Minister is required to further explain the reasons for her decision.
  2. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced a two-year renewal of fish farming licences in B.C., outside of the Discovery Islands, until mid-2024.
  3. DFO Minister Murray confirmed that the proposed framework for a transition plan for open net-pen fish farms does not currently include removing the nets from the waters by 2025, as had been promised.
  4. shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation came to an agreement with Grieg Seafoods to remove all farmed salmon by the end of November 2022, and to decommission the farms on their territory by early 2023

Read our letter to Minister Murray regarding DFO’s Transition Plan