Green Party leader Elizabeth May paid a visit to Vancouver Island on Thursday, to reaffirm her party’s dedication to ending fish farming in open ocean pens and expand on what that would look like for people living on the coast.
While standing by the Brant Viewing Area on the Old Island Highway in Qualicum Beach, May emphasized more funding for fish stock research to help protect endangered species; moving all open-net pen fish aquaculture facilities to closed land-based systems; financial support for fish pen workers during transition; and the idea of involving local First Nations in the process of phasing out fish farming in open ocean pens.
In response to a question from The NEWS about concerns around job loss in the fish farming industry, May said jobs would be displaced to land based aquaculture operations and that the opportunities for work in the sector are plentiful.
“We’re very concerned to ensure that workers in any aspect of the economy that’s going to go through a major transition, particularly fossil fuel workers, but also fish farm workers, that they know they have jobs in the transition,” May said. “There are workers in aquaculture on land.”
She said that there are fish farm operations on land elsewhere in Canada and B.C., and it’s time to “stop the contamination of the wild salmon populations with the sea lice, with the diseases and with the very negative impacts of having salmon aquaculture taking over our coastal ecosystems.”
Hereditary Chief Gigame of the Laichkwiltach Nation, George Quocksister Jr., was present at the announcement, said he thinks fish farming is a significant issue for all people in B.C.
“They’re destroying the salmon, not only the salmon, the prawns, crabs, clams - everything is getting destroyed,” he said.
May continued on her Thursday tour of Vancouver Island after visiting Qualicum Beach, ahead of Monday’s federal election.