An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. on Oct. 31, 2018. Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal decision to phase out fish farming has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.” In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, they say they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. on Oct. 31, 2018. Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal decision to phase out fish farming has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.” In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, they say they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

Strathcona Regional District pens letter to Trudeau about fish farm closure

Minister Jordan, MLA Babchuk and MP Blaney also included in letter

The Strathcona Regional District board of directors is writing a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Fisheries Bernadette Jordan about the decision to phase out fish farms from the waters around the Discovery Islands.

Electoral Area D director Brenda Leigh put the motion forward to draft the letter, expressing how the district is disappointed there was no consultation with any local governments about the decision, and that the closure could affect up to “1,500 direct and indirect jobs and further harm the struggling economy on Northern Vancouver Island.”

The motion saw approval across the board, and directors wanted to ensure that the federal government understands that local government consultation on these kinds of matters is crucial.

“The issue is that the federal government does not recognize local government as a level of government, so when we talk about communities, that doesn’t mean local governments. That means communities,” said director Charlie Cornfield. “If they’ve talked to a few people in town or organizations, that means they’ve done their community consultation. I think it’s really important to stress the local government part. I think that is really important because until they do recognize us, they just ignore us.”

“I would like to see any letter that goes out be very very clear that they’ve not had any dialogue with any local government, whether it’s cities or other local government. The impacts of this decision are huge, and I think we need to stress the fact that local government is the voice of the local communities,” he added.

Director Colleen Evans added that the letter should be copied to MLA Michele Babchuk and MP Rachel Blaney as well because of the lack of interaction with local governments.

“We need to make sure that we include and copy this to our regional representatives. To ensure that we are keeping them informed and holding them accountable to be able to respond to the information that we’re bringing forward,” she said.

“The motion and the crux of it is that we were not consulted,” Leigh added. “We need to be consulted. We need to tell them so this doesn’t keep happening. People are out there, their lives are being decimated and they have no input on this decision that’s happening right now. Our MP is talking to the federal fisheries minister right now, and I’m afraid that we’re not going to get the point of view of the local communities across to the minister. I’m very afraid of that because it does affect a lot of people.”

SRD staff will prepare a letter to be sent to the Prime Minister, Minister of Fisheries, MLA and MP.

RELATED: Open-net salmon farms on their way out of B.C. waters

Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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