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Protecting wild Pacific salmon: the transition from open net-pen salmon aquaculture to closed containment systems in British Columbia coastal waters

Ending open net-pen salmon aquaculture

To better protect wild Pacific salmon and to promote more sustainable aquaculture practices, the Government of Canada will ban open net-pen salmon aquaculture in British Columbia coastal waters by June 30, 2029. As a result, those holding licences to operate open net-pen salmon aquaculture facilities in the region will be required to fully terminate these operations by that date and will be expected to make restocking and harvesting decisions consistent with this requirement.

The Government of Canada is committed to working together with the Province of British Columbia, affected First Nations, coastal communities, and others impacted on the West Coast through the transition away from open net-pen salmon aquaculture to closed containment systems and other forms of aquaculture.

This policy statement applies to salmon aquaculture in British Columbia, where Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the lead regulator for aquaculture. Regulations will be updated to reflect this policy statement.

Aquaculture licences

Current open net-pen salmon aquaculture licences in British Columbia expire on June 30, 2024. For current licence holders seeking a licence renewal, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard intends to issue five-year licences effective July 1, 2024. These will come with stricter conditions of licence to strengthen the protection of wild species and the marine environment.

After July 1, 2024, only marine or land-based closed containment systems will be considered for salmon aquaculture licences. The Government of Canada recognizes that such systems are likely to come with increased investment costs. Incentivizing the transition to such systems is desirable given the need to promote wild fish health, reconciliation with coastal First Nations, economic development in rural and coastal communities, food security, and other important public outcomes. As such, the Minister intends to issue nine-year licences to successful applicants applying for closed-containment production.

Transition plan

A number of First Nations, coastal communities and others in British Columbia rely on open net-pen aquaculture for their livelihood and prosperity. To support a transition that mitigates impacts on those affected by this policy, the Government will release a draft salmon aquaculture transition plan by July 31, 2024. The Government will establish an interdepartmental task force with expertise in reconciliation, economic and community development, and aquaculture management to lead consultations on the draft plan. The draft plan will focus on:

The Government intends to release the draft plan by July 31, 2024. Over the following months, the Government of Canada will engage and consult with First Nations, the Province of British Columbia, coastal communities, industry, and others to inform a final transition plan, which will be released in 2025.

Related links

News release - Responsible, Realistic, and Achievable: The Government of Canada announces transition from open net-pen salmon aquaculture in coastal British Columbia

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