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Rachel Blaney to meet fisheries minister to discuss economic transition plan for Vancouver Island re: fish farm decision

The MP says she will communicate the voices of people affected
North Island-Powell River MP, Rachel Blaney will meet with federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan on Monday to discuss the transition plans for Vancouver Island following her announcement to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022 . (Marissa Tiel/ Campbell River Mirror)

North Island- Powell River MP Rachel Blaney will meet federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan on Monday, Jan. 11 to discuss the implementation of a transition plans for aquaculture workers in her riding.

Blaney said that she will share the concerns of community members, workers and businesses from her riding with Minister Jordan and ask her to be an active participant in the move forward.

This will be the NDP MP’s first conversation with Jordan after the fisheries minister announced on Dec. 17 to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms by 2022.

The decision, according to Jordan, was based primarily on consultation with seven First Nations which have title in the Discovery Islands. Based on the Cohen Commission reports, a coalition of Indigenous groups and wild salmon advocates have been calling for fish farms to be removed from B.C. waters, arguing they threaten the health of wild salmon.

READ MORE: Discovery Islands salmon farms on their way out

Numerous industry members from Vancouver Island expressed their dissatisfaction with the decision. Mayors, businesses and members of the aquaculture industry raised concerns about the impacts this decision would have on jobs and Vancouver Island’s economy.

READ MORE: Canada ‘stole Christmas’ says Vancouver Island’s aquaculture industry

NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans, Gord Johns, in response to the announcement, called for “a strong transition plan for the affected workers and impacted communities.”

Blaney also wrote to minister Jordan stressing the need for a plan to ensure that North Island workers and communities were supported in the wake of the Government’s decision.

“We’re still in the middle of the pandemic and this is another blow to many families in our region. The federal government needs to develop a plan to help our community get through these changes and thrive,” she said. “I will be telling the minister about the concerns and stories our communities, workers and businesses have shared with our office and looking for commitments for the support they need at this time.”

Prior to the feds making the decision, Blaney said that they were clear with the minister that when the decision was made they wanted to see a plan.

However, no transition plan has been rolled out yet by the federal government.

“There was no plan attached to that and I think that lack of having some sort of plan, or strategy, really has put our region into a tailspin,” said Blaney.

“While nobody knew what the decision was going to be, we are all living with the results. My goal is to continue to do what I can to reach out to provide opportunities for voices to be heard and to make sure that the minister knows that this is going to have a serious impact and we need to have a plan going forward.”

Blaney also said that this is the first step to ensure that the federal minister knows that the government will have to invest in the transition process and added, “we expect a significant amount of resources to come into this region, so that we can create solutions that make sense in our communities.”