B.C., First Nations formalize talks on concerns over future of fish farms

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Atlantic salmon being raised at a B.C. fish farm. Photograph By Marine Harvest Canada

Some coastal First Nations in British Columbia will have a greater say about the future of fish farms on their territory, following a new agreement with the provincial government.

The province says in a news release that it has a letter of understanding with three central coast First Nations that will formalize ongoing talks about salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago off Vancouver Island.

The ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations and province will speak with various parties involved, including the fish farm industry, and come up with actions and recommendations over the next 90 days.

The news follows an announcement by the province last week that the salmon farmers will have four years to show their open-net operations don’t harm wild salmon and to get approval from area First Nations to locate the operations in their territories.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says the government has been speaking with First Nations since January to resolve their concerns about fish farms, and the agreement recognizes the need to work respectfully with Indigenous Peoples to protect wild salmon.

Chief Bob Chamberlin with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation says his community did not consent to the presence of fish farms on their territory and he looks forward to a process that respects the need for consent going forward.

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