Economist Doug Blair who prepared the report for RIAS Inc., said that he found significant concern with the lack of consultation by Minister Bernadette Jordan, leading her to make a rushed decision without understanding the implications and seemingly no plan to manage impacts. (Supplied photo)

B.C. salmon farmers ask feds to reconsider decision based on new economic analysis

The independent report by RIAS Inc. estimates an annual loss of $390 million dollar cost to B.C.'s economy

  • Feb. 23, 2021 12:00 a.m.

BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) called on the federal government to reconsider their decision to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms by 2022.

Based on the latest economic analysis report by RIAS Inc, that estimates the loss of 1,500 jobs and over 10 million juvenile salmon eggs, BCSFA asked the government to “set aside its decision to force the closure” of these 19 farms and engage in a new process.

B.C.’s salmon farmers have asked for time to develop a plan to minimize serious impacts as well as to transfer juvenile salmon in the hatcheries. They are also asking the government to table a new process that brings all parties together in an inclusive and transparent process.

Doug Blair, the economist and managing director of RIAS Inc., who prepared the report estimates removal of almost $200 million in annual revenue from salmon farming and processing along with the associated salaries, taxes, and community benefits.

The report suggests that B.C.’s economy will be hit by a total loss of $390 million annually, with an estimated $87 million less in annual salaries and benefits and $21 million less in annual tax revenue at the local, provincial, and federal levels.

“The only way to avoid the severe damages shown in our report would be for the government to revisit this decision and engage in a genuine process of consultation with all parties aimed at finding a better way forward. As it is, left unchanged, this decision will be devastating,” said Blair in a statement.

According to Blair, in his research he found significant concern with the lack of consultation by federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, leading her to make a rushed decision without understanding the implications and seemingly no plan to manage impacts.

Blair added his analysis is likely conservative, and the actual impact will be more significant.

“In compiling this report we did our best to quantify the expected immediate impacts of this decision,” said Blair. “In reality, the impacts likely will be far greater. That’s because we cannot account for the ripple effects from hundreds of families being forced to relocate elsewhere for work, selling their homes and leaving a hole in the community, or that the decision will likely push some suppliers over the brink into failure.”

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