BCWF supports international call to remove salmon farms from B.C. coastal waters

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is joining Watershed Watch Salmon Society and the Argentina-based Global Salmon Farming Resistance (GSFR) to protect B.C.’s wild salmon from the harmful spread of pathogens and parasites that proliferate in fish farms. You can read the letter below:

International call for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remove salmon farms from British Columbia coastal waters

June 6, 2025

As the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirms elevated farmed salmon deaths off the coast of British Columbia, representatives of 46 organizations from 15 different countries are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his promise to remove open net-pen fish farms
from B.C. coastal waters.

The farms are “a threat to coastal waters everywhere they operate,” says the letter organized by the Argentina-based Global Salmon Farming Resistance (GSFR) and B.C.-based Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Prime Minister Trudeau committed in 2019 via his mandate letter to then-fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan to “…to create a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.” The federal government is expected to release the plan before June 30, 2024, when all federal licences for B.C. salmon farms expire.

The letter cites problems associated with the salmon farming industry in Chile, Norway, Iceland, Australia and Canada and it asks the Prime Minister not to renew salmon farm licences for a duration past 2025 and to “begin the removal of salmon farms from British Columbia immediately.”

It is signed by a wide range of international organizations, including the B.C. Wildlife Federation, The Environmental Protection Association of Norway, Protect Maine’s Fishing Heritage Foundation, and Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.

“The industry operates in the same way and has the same terrible impacts worldwide, affecting local environments and, consequently, local communities that face alone a resourceful and powerful adversary. Today, organizations from around the world are demonstrating their support
and standing in solidarity with the British Columbia community,” says Catalina Cendoya, director of The Global Salmon Farming Resistance.

Following a whistleblower tip about a suspected mass die-off event, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed on Wednesday to Watershed Watch elevated levels of farm fish deaths in the Nootka region of Vancouver Island. Grieg Seafood owns several Atlantic salmon farms in the area.

A recent published study by researchers at the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria identified 865 million instances of salmon mortality worldwide from 2012-2022; 5.05 million of them in Canada. There is now a large body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating open net-pen salmon farms amplify and spread harmful pathogens and parasites to wild fish.

“Our small-scale, community-based fishing families have depended on wild salmon for their way of life and their food system for generations,” says Sonia Strobel, co-founder and CEO of Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery in British Columbia. “But since the introduction of salmon farms and the resulting declines in wild salmon populations, they have faced extensive fishing closures and loss of access to their way of life and food source.”

“The international community speaks with a single voice on this issue: open net salmon farms threaten coastal waters and local communities,” says Stan Proboszcz, senior science and policy analyst at Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “Prime Minister, please fulfill your commitment and be an international example of ocean protection leadership.”

Media contacts:
Stan Proboszcz, Senior Science and Policy Analyst, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, proboszcz@watershedwatch.ca
Catalina Cendoya, Director of the Global Salmon Farm Resistance, catalina@thegsfr.com
Sonia Strobel, Co-Founder and CEO of Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery, sonia@skipperotto.ca

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