Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

salmon farm licensing decision welcomed with caution

June 20, 2024

VANCOUVER: traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations - In a decision released yesterday, Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier expressed the government’s intention to “ban” the open-net pen salmon farm industry by 2029. Living Oceans is pleased to see the Minister making an appropriately precautionary decision to protect wild salmon, but expresses concern for its implementation.

“As welcome as the news of the ban is, this announcement leaves important questions unanswered,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of Living Oceans Society. “It suggests that new, in-ocean technology might be acceptable for future, longer licensing, yet there is no in-ocean technology that could protect wild salmon from farm effluent. Even the systems that the industry describes as “closed containment” still release untreated sewage into fish-bearing waters. That sewage can contain pathogens shown to be associated with poor returns of wild salmon.”

Living Oceans has advocated for the removal of open-net pen salmon farms since its formation in Sointula in 1998. Living and working in a fishing community, it was easy to see the impacts the farms were having. It was much harder to convince the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to regulate to control those impacts. Of greatest concern today is the regulation of the industry over the next five years.

“Right now, juvenile wild salmon are migrating past Nootka Sound salmon farms reporting sea lice loads as high as 34 sea lice per fish – numbers deadly to young salmon – underscoring why this decision was not only necessary but critical. Removing open-net pens farms will give wild salmon a fighting chance to thrive again,” said Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Seafood Campaigner for Living Oceans.



Contact Information

Karen Wristen, Executive Director  604-788-5634 kwristen [at]
Kelly Roebuck, Sustainable Seafood Campaigner  kroebuck [at]