The following guest blog appears with permission of our friend and colleague, Alexandra Morton. The battle she traces is fraught with peril for our wild salmon: keeping farmed salmon out of the narrow passages of the Discovery Islands is key to the survival of critically depressed stocks of Fraser River salmon. Returning at only one percent of their historic high levels for the past two years, many of these salmon populations are at risk of extinction. The stakes are high; and the industry machinations traced in this blog lay bare the stark contrast between our world view and theirs.
Alex’s book, “Not on my Watch”, details the sordid development of the industry from its earliest days. It is available from Upstart & Crow or a bookseller near you.
Alexandra Morton – June 23, 2021
Below are excerpts from the affidavits submitted by Mowi, Cermaq and Grieg to the federal court during the legal challenges mounted by industry to overturn the Minister of Fisheries decision to prohibit restocking of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. They include communications between the salmon farming industry and DFO and the Minister. While DFO staff were on the frontlines responding to the salmon farming industry’s shock at being denied access to the Discovery Islands, senior managers appear to be actively trying to benefit the industry. The Introductions and Transfer staff provided firm, unyielding response to the increasingly demanding industry.
It’s painful, but instructive, to take a look back over the last two decades to see how Canada’s political and regulatory systems responded (or failed utterly to respond) to the growing public concern over wild salmon and the damage that factory fish farms are doing to them.
The picture that’s painted is pretty clear: our elected politicians got it twenty years ago and the people we look to for checks on good government, the auditors, got it too. Yet somehow, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) managed to duck and weave its way through all the criticism and keep the industry right where it never should have been—right up until now, when Pacific salmon are hovering on the brink of extinction. Finally, we’re seeing some action.