Cermaq warns of continued uncertainty for aquaculture in Canada

The announcement contributes to a growing uncertainty in international investment in British Columbia and Canada, says CEO Steven Raffery

Cermaq warns of continued uncertainty as the federal government announces 5 year-term aquaculture licenses and ban of open net farming from 2029.

Cermaq remains deeply concerned about the future of our sector in British Columbia after yesterday’s announcement. The government of Canada announced a new 5-year licensing period to 30 June 2029 as well as a policy to move-away from traditional marine salmon farms in the province of British Columbia. The government proposes to move BC salmon farms to closed-containment systems or onto land.

Steven Rafferty, CEO Cermaq commented “The announcement contributes to a growing uncertainty in international investment in British Columbia and Canada. While every other salmon producing country has farming licenses of at least 25 years duration or eternal duration, the short license length in British Columbia continues to be a barrier to significant investment, despite our strong willingness to grow the industry”

“Throughout our meetings and consultations, we have explained to various departments within the Canadian government why land-based and closed containment-based farming cannot replace current seawater production in a period as short as 5 years. Unfortunately, our arguments - and those of the entire industry - even science-based facts have been rejected. The objective the government has put forward in front of us cannot be delivered in this timeframe and is in fact, logistically impossible in remote coastal areas due to lack of suitable land or supporting infrastructure”, says Rafferty.

Cermaq has been a responsible and willing partner throughout the Transition process. This decision limits any further opportunities for a modern salmon farming sector in British Columbia. We will take time to study the detail of the announcements and consider our next steps. For the moment, our concerns are with our employees, indigenous partners and all the families impacted by the continuous fear of loss of employment” continued Rafferty.

It has been a challenging period for our employees, our coastal communities, and First Nations with whom we work; since 2020, we have seen the loss of over 1,500 sector jobs across BC, with salaries and benefits totaling almost $87 million annually disappearing with them.

“Over the last four years, we have worked hard to meaningfully engage in the process set out by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in support of a healthy salmon farming sector and healthy wild salmon populations. It is extremely disappointing to see that engagement has not resulted in a better understanding of our company and the realities of the limitations of certain innovation pathways. We are also disappointed to witness a complete lack of proper consultation with our Indigenous partners. This announcement will have significant negative impacts on the rural, coastal and Indigenous communities that we operate and could result in a very real possibility that we will not be able to deliver on our commitments to our First Nation’s protocol agreements and most importantly reconciliation”—David Kiemele, Managing Director, Cermaq Canada

Cermaq expects the government to prioritize meeting the objectives of the First Nations who have salmon farming in their territories and that the process going forward will support that objective. Our team will carefully review the policy decision announced today and thereafter communicate accordingly.

About Cermaq Canada

Cermaq Canada is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Our farms sustainably raise healthy, nutritious salmon to feed the world, reducing pressure on declining wild salmon populations. We operate under a robust protocol agreement with the Ahousaht First Nation, and offer year-round, well-paid employment to rural coastal communities across Vancouver Island. Salmon farming has the lowest carbon footprint of all protein farming, and consistently ranks high when it comes to global sustainability. Cermaq has operations in Canada, Chile and Norway.

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