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MP Blaney writes letter to fisheries minister pleading for fish farm transition plan

The affected communities are small, rural communities like The District of Port Hardy
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney speaks in the House of Commons. Photo courtesy YouTube

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney wrote a letter dated May 1 to Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, pleading for more transparency when it comes to plans to “move fish farms from water to land.”

Blaney noted in the letter that despite her repeated calls for a strong transition plan, “there has been no plan announced and very little response from your office. Many people of the North Island – Powell River riding rely on salmon and fisheries for our economic, ecological, and cultural well-being. They are concerned that they will have no opportunity to offer insights or input into the development of an effective and sustainable plan as fish farms are moved.”

She acknowledged the relocation of the fish farms will have “significant impacts in terms of community economics and displaced jobs” and furthermore, “the people I spoke with are concerned that there has been no guidance as to how your government intends to assist local communities during the transition, even though jobs have already been lost, and more people are likely to find themselves out of work and the process continues. They need more than a transition plan; they need a jobs plan that enables them to move on to the next chapter in their employment.”

The affected communities are small, rural communities like The District of Port Hardy, which is located on the tip of Northern Vancouver Island. Communities like Port Hardy “rely heavily on the revenues and jobs created by resources industries and are constantly struggling to recover as the sectors they rely on grapple with various obstacles and setbacks,” stated Blaney. “We need assistance in these communities to allow them self-determination and ensure they can survive.”

It was back in 2019 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated for the government work with local stakeholders to create a transition plan, “yet here we are in 2023 with no plan in place and no information as to when a plan will be implemented,” Blaney wrote, adding, “This government has done little in the way of providing an open process, fostering communication and consultation, and responding to the questions and concerns of local stakeholders.”

“Minister, time is running out. Workers face increasing uncertainty and hardships. Communities are being increasingly affected by the economic losses. Your government can alleviate some of the stress by being transparent about the process, yet it fails to do so.”

Blaney then listed solutions in her letter that she’s heard from her constituents:

1. develop a strong and thorough transition plan/jobs plan that encompasses stakeholder consultation.

2. provide a timeline for the plan.

3. establish an office in highly impacted communities to assist workers in finding alternate jobs in their areas, including staff that can identify employment and training opportunities for those who have lost their jobs.

4. Set aside money from the $647 million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative towards regions and communities impacted by the changeover in fish farms, as moving fish farms to land would meet the strategy’s mandate to restore wild salmon.

5. acknowledge and work with the First Nations who have developed positive relationships with the industry.

6. ensure that the people of my riding will not be forgotten as the fish farm relocation process is undertaken.

“While I continue to respect the decision regarding fish farms, I am frustrated and disappointed that there has been little movement regarding the transition plan,” added Blaney. “The people in my riding deserve this government’s support and consideration.”

RELATED: After the election - the future of fish farms in the North Island


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