Feds says they are not on the hook for Mowi decision to cull 2.6 million farmed fish

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The federal government says it has not asked Mowi to cull fish or stopped them from transferring smolts to other sites the aquaculture company has in the province.

Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan’s office issued a statement in response to Mowi’s claim earlier this week that the Dec. 17 federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery fish farms within 18 months might lead to 2.6 million smolts being culled from their Vancouver Island hatcheries if they were unable to find a home for them.

READ MORE: Mowi backtracks on fish cull losses – 8.3 million to 2.6 million

Calling the company’s decision to cull fish as “unfortunate,” the minister’s office also said that there were no federal regulations stopping the company from transferring these smolts to other farm sites that the company manages in the region.

Mowi has about 27 sites in the region. Of that, nine to 10 farms near the Discovery Islands will be phased out owing to Jordan’s decision to shut them down after consulting seven First Nations who hold title in the area.

“Mowi’s stated intention to cull fish is unfortunate, but the government is not directing the company to take this action. While the Minister has indicated her intention that transfers into the Discovery Islands of new finfish will no longer be possible, DFO has not denied a request to transfer of these fish to Mowi’s many other aquaculture sites,” said Jordan’s office in an email statement to the Mirror.

On Feb.10, Mowi said that the decisions by federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan were “unreasonable” and left them no time to plan for alternative locations for these fish.

In response to the aquaculture firms saying that the 18-months grace period to phase fish farms was too short a time to plan their five-year processing cycle, the minister’s office said that the licenses were always subject to yearly renewals since the past ten years and “always with the understanding that a decision would be made by the end of 2020.”

Jordan’s office also said the decision to phase out the fish farms was made after much consultation with the First Nations in the area.

“In 2021, Canadians expect First Nations to have a say in what economic activity occurs on their territory. These pens were not the right fit for the area.”

READ ALSO: Discovery Islands salmon farms on their way out

Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Campbell River Mirror