City of Victoria firmly opposes open-net fish farms

The City of Victoria has reaffirmed its opposition to open-net fish farms over the objections of Coun. Geoff Young.

Councillors passed a motion to forward to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities calling on the province to consult with First Nations, local governments, conservation organizations and industry on a plan to move to closed-containment aquaculture.

But Young argued that in closing open-net fish farms, it doesn’t necessarily follow that there will be a transition to closed-containment fish-farming right next door. In fact, he said, the more likely transition for workers is to unemployment insurance.

“I think there’s an implication here that there’s going to be closed-containment aquaculture here. My small understanding of the economics is that in fact it is far more likely that that transition to closed-containment aquaculture will result in that aquaculture taking place much closer to markets,” Young said.

“I think the implication that these farms are just going to move next door to the dry land and everybody is going to continue to work there is harmfully misleading.”

Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who sponsored the motion with Coun. Ben Isitt, said the people of Victoria are behind the closure of open-net farms.

“We’ve received hundreds of emails in the last couple of days. There are a lot of people in Victoria who are very concerned about this,” Loveday said.

“That’s because the evidence shows that open-net fish farms could pose serious risks to wild salmon stocks, and when we’re talking about wild salmon stocks, we’re talking about the health and livelihood of our coast and we’re talking about First Nations sovereignty.”

The resolution, Young argued, states categorically that open-net fish farms are detrimental to the environment. While there is a significant amount of evidence in support of that, there is also evidence to the contrary, he said.

“Frankly, I’m not able to make that judgment. I don’t have any training in biology,” he said.

The motion also suggested that the fish farms undermine relations with First Nations. Young said there is no certainty in that area.

“Any fair-minded person will admit we have competing claims. We have court decisions,” he said.

Coun. Chris Coleman said he could support the resolution, but he thought it important Young’s arguments be heard on the association’s convention floor.

Bill Cleverley

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