Liberals Must Protect BC Wild Salmon

Federal New Democrats are renewing calls to strengthen the Fisheries Act following the publication of a study linking BC salmon farms with serious diseases in the salmon population.

“This report confirms what many have been saying for years,” said NDP Fisheries & Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly (Port Moody-Coquitlam). “Open net salmon farms pose a significant risk to farmed and wild salmon.”

The report, written by a team of scientists from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, confirms the prevalence of heart and skeletal muscle inflammation in farmed salmon and shows strong links to a dangerous virus that can harm wild salmon.

“I proposed legislation that would have moved harmful open net salmon pens to safe closed containment systems,” Donnelly said. “But instead of taking that opportunity to act, the Liberal government chose to defend the big business interests.”

Donnelly’s Private Member’s Bill C-228 was defeated late last year when the majority of Liberal MPs, including many from British Columbia, voted against the bill. New Democrats hope new evidence of the risks to vulnerable wild salmon will force the government to reconsider its position.

“The importance of wild Pacific salmon cannot be overstated,” said Nanaimo—Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson. “They are the foundation of Indigenous culture, and B.C’s coastal ecology and economy. We cannot afford declining wild salmon populations and we cannot afford aquaculture collapse. We must transition to closed containment.”