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Surrey businesses back up BC salmon farms, warn of urban job losses from closures

Surrey businesses are defending coastal salmon farms, worried hundreds of urban jobs are at risk from government transition plans.

This morning the Surrey Board of Trade held a press conference calling on the federal fisheries ministry to reconsider plans to remove all BC salmon farms from the ocean. Board president Anita Huberman says the farms create $220 million in economic benefits for Surrey alone each year, and more than 1,000 full time jobs. She says at least 80 have been lost in Surrey in the last several years after Mowi Canada West closed its Surrey processing plant because it could no longer supply it with enough fish, thanks to the federal government closing sites on the North Island.

Several Surrey-based businesses took part in the conference; Kyran  Clarke with AquaTrans, which hauls freight to and from Vancouver Island including farmed salmon, says the government’s approach could shut down the entire industry and many smaller businesses which support it. He says there are many businesses in the Lower Mainland which depend on salmon farm producers on the coast.

“The impact of further closures is not just to the producers,” he says. “It’s to all of the vendors, and the vendors of those vendors. So we’re asking, on behalf of our families, our employees, and the thousands of others who are impacted, to stop the further closure of salmon farms.”

BC Salmon Farmers spokesperson Brian Kingzett says the government is not being transparent about plans to move the industry on land, and is not making decisions based on science.

He says 1,500 jobs have been lost already since salmon farmers had 40% of their coastal sites closed in the last five years. He says forcing the industry to farm fish on land will permanently shutter the BC industry.

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