Leonardo DiCaprio criticizes Ottawa over British Columbia salmon farms

Salmon farms have long been a point of contention between environmentalists and fish farmers in British Columbia, but a much larger net is now being cast over the issue.

An Instagram post by Oscar-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio criticizes the Canadian government.

Its social media post stated that Ottawa is “considering extending licenses for open-net pen salmon farms in British Columbia for up to six months.”

A local First Nations group praises their attention to Canada’s fishing practices.

“We need as many Canadians as possible to understand what’s at stake right now and if someone like Leonardo DiCaprio can help us with that. Of course, that will be very, very welcome,” said Bob “Galagame” Chamberlin, president of the Alliance of First Nations Wild Salmon.

His organization gained thousands of new followers online following DiCaprio’s post.

Salmon farms with open cages have been accused of spreading diseases such as sea lice that can affect wild salmon populations.

The Canadian government is rejecting the Hollywood actor’s claim.

“Our government remains committed to working on a responsible plan to transition open-cage salmon farming in British Columbia coastal waters by 2025,” the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans told CTV News in a statement.

“We continue to work on a responsible transition plan that protects Pacific salmon while supporting workers and their communities.”

But Chamberlin says the word “transition” is misleading.

CTV News obtained a copy of a letter sent to local municipalities that says the federal government is consulting on a license lasting between two and six years.

“If DFO intends to reissue all fish farming licenses for two to six years, it certainly will not improve the consultations that are taking place in transition planning,” Chamberlin said. “It’s going to undermine it.”

A local salmon farming advocate calls DiCaprio’s post “irresponsible.”

“Our companies would love to invite Mr. DiCaprio to come to Canada and see for himself on the ground rather than making unfounded claims about his giant platform,” said Brian Kingzett, executive director of the Columbia Salmon Farmers Association. British.

He says many First Nations groups support keeping open-pen salmon farming.

“Mr. DiCaprio, while I have a lot of respect for what you do… he has never visited a salmon farm, he has never met any of the indigenous communities that we support and employ, who have environmental responsibility for our farms, so it is really disappointing,” he said.

Kingzett says the sector needs licenses extended for a further six years to achieve sustainability.

“We will need a whole ocean of seafood to supply ourselves and the only way to do that is to figure out how to farm responsibly, just like we do on land, so we will continue to innovate.”

Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier says she continues to work with First Nations stakeholders and communities, as well as the BC government, on next steps.

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