Dear North Vancouver Island Mayors,
I am writing to you after reading the widely published article announcing that you feel “disposable and discarded” after a few salmon farms were told their federal licences would not be renewed beyond 18 months in the territories of seven First Nations.
You might want to consider the optics of this. You have not been “discarded” by the people of the communities that elected you to work for them. Perhaps you are now disposable to an industry that has failed to keep up with the times, but you are not disposable to us.
This decision did not come out of the blue. You must know that. The federal government made their intention to move salmon farms into closed containment known over a year ago.
You do realize that closed containment is taking off globally, right? That some of the farmers using the Discovery Islands are investing in closed containment elsewhere. You must know that net pen-reared farm salmon is the lowest grade salmon available on the market – neither wild nor sustainable – and that is all B.C. is going to be left with? It has got to be apparent given the recent past that making our communities dependant on the whims of international companies is why boom and bust hurts us over and over.
When you tie your fate to that of Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg, such as you have done in this recent media, you hurt the communities that you pledged to serve. We are more than fish farmers, but we are also ready to embrace an aquaculture industry that takes responsibility for its impact by containing its waste. Why would this be the only industry that does not have to become environmentally responsible?
The salmon farming industry is accused of destroying one of the long-standing pillars of the North Island economy – wild salmon – and you are not curious why people are saying this?
When you allow the industry to speak for you, to say that you have been discarded because they did not get their way, you make it look like you are on a very short leash. I hope you will reconsider being used in this way and become leaders to diversify our economy and make us resilient.