VICTORIA -- The federal government says it will phase out all fish farms in B.C.’s Discovery Islands by June 2022. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says no new fish of any size may be introduced into the region from now until the phase-out date.

Existing salmon farms can continue to operate in the island archipelago, located between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland, until June 30, 2022. After that date they must be free of fish and closed down.

The government says it consulted with seven local First Nations on the decision, namely the Homalco, Klahoose, K’ómoks, Kwaikah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum nations.

“The Government of Canada remains committed to sustainable, environmentally conscious aquaculture, but it must be developed collaboratively and include the voices of Indigenous peoples and all Canadians,” said Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan in a statement Thursday.

“Today’s decision was not easy,” Jordan added. “I am committed to working with all involved parties; the First Nations, industry and the province of British Columbia, over the next 18 months to ensure a fair and orderly transition process that phases out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands.”

There are currently 19 fish farms in the Discovery Islands but only 10 are operating with fish pens in place, according to the federal fisheries department.