BCSFA Youth Council sent the following letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 8th, 2021 via email.
Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau;
The BC Salmon Farmers Association’s Youth Council is reaching out to you today regarding Minister Bernadette Jordan’s announcement on the closure of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands, on December 17th, 2020 – putting potentially 1,500 families in limbo. The BCSFA Youth Council is comprised of and represents young professionals under 35 working across the value chain of salmon aquaculture in British Columbia, and we are concerned for our future.
Just before Christmas, Minister Jordan announced that all salmon farms in the Discovery Islands will be shut down within 18 months. This decision is having a profound impact on young people who once looked ahead to a long and positive career path in salmon aquaculture, but now wonder about their future in this sector. As the Council represents youth from across the sector, we hear this uncertainty firsthand – “what about my mortgage?” ,“what about my family and friends?”, “what about the life I was building for myself here?”
As COVID-19 took hold, salmon farming was named an essential service by your own government and is one of the few industries that did not experience major layoffs in Canada. We would like to remind you that the demographic most impacted by COVID-19 economically is youth. Two-thirds of the people working in BC salmon farming are under 35 years old. At a time when securing and protecting the future of young people in Canada is so critical, we find ourselves reeling, stressed, anxious and exhausted – with our future in jeopardy.
Prime Minister, what now?
We are scientists, engineers, environmentalists, farmers, veterinarians, certification specialists and much more. We are the engine of salmon aquaculture in rural coastal communities. If we believed our industry was harming wild salmon and the surrounding marine environment, we would not be working in it. Science is our foundation, and your own government’s nine years of independent peer-reviewed research suggests farmed and wild salmon can co-exist safely.
Prime Minister, set salmon aquaculture aside for a moment. As highly trained and skilled young professionals, we are concerned by any decision made that does not have data, science, and research at its core. Without including science in decision making, where will Canada be?
Your government talks a lot about Canada’s Blue Economy and its potential. We read articles, join webinars, tune in…it’s fun, informative and we’re proud of our contribution to the Blue Economy. Unfortunately, your actions have eroded the trust we once placed in you to seize British Columbia’s Blue Economy potential. Your actions are what matter, not words. We can now only hope that Canada’s recent signatory to the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy was sincere, and that we, as youth in aquaculture, still have a place in the future of the Blue Economy.
Indigenous communities and relationships are of the utmost importance to us. Reconciliation is needed in Canada, but reconciliation cannot leave communities divided.
Prime Minister, your government has failed young British Columbians in rural coastal communities. As a leader, you have failed here. You failed to bring people together to do the hard work necessary to reconcile and move forward collectively. So, we are left with questions. Concerns. Worry. Anger.
We are asking you to show up for us, and show up for the future of Canada’s Blue Economy – young people who look to you for leadership, working on BC’s coast.
BCSFA Youth Council
Roxanne van Velzen
Honourable Bernadette Jordan, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Terry Beech, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Rachel Blaney, M.P., North Island – Powell River
Honourable John Horgan, M.L.A., Premier, Province of British Columbia
Honourable Lana Popham, M.L.A., Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Honourable Josie Osborne, M.L.A., Minister of Municipal Affairs
Honourable Ravi Kahlon, M.L.A., Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation
Honourable Harry Bains, M.L.A., Minister of Labour
Fin Donnelly, M.L.A., Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture
Michele Babchuck, M.L.A., North Island
Timothy Sargent, Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Rebecca Reid, Regional Director General, Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Tracey Sandgathe, Director, Aquaculture Management Division, Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada