First Na­tions get veto over BC sal­mon farm sites

Fish Farmer - - World News -

SAL­MON farm­ers in Bri­tish Columbia will re­quire First Na­tions con­sent over tenures, in new rules an­nounced last month.

The ef­fec­tive veto granted to in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties goes well be­yond ex­ist­ing leg- is­la­tion that re­quires farm com­pa­nies to con­sult First Na­tions groups over farm sites on their lands.

The new re­quire­ments es­tab­lish key cri­te­ria for tenures past 2022.

‘The chal­lenges fac­ing our wild sal­mon have been ig­nored for far too long,’ said Lana Popham, BC agri­cul­ture min­is­ter and an out­spo­ken op­po­nent of sal­mon farm­ing.

‘That’s why we are putting in place a new ap­proach to pro­vide clar­ity and out­line our ex­pec­ta­tions mov­ing for­ward for a sus­tain­able in­dus­try that pro­tects wild sal­mon, em­braces rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, and pro­vides good jobs.’

The prov­ince of BC will grant Land Act tenures only to fish farm op­er­a­tors who have sat­is­fied Fish­eries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that their op­er­a­tions will not ad­versely im­pact wild sal­mon stocks, and who have ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments with the First Na­tions in whose ter­ri­tory they pro­pose to op­er­ate.

A court rul­ing in 2009 clar­i­fied that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment had the ex­clu­sive ju­ris­dic­tion for reg­u­lat­ing fish­eries, in­clud­ing fish farms.

The year 2022 aligns with the cur­rent re­new- al date of the ma­jor­ity of li­cences is­sued by the DFO. Op­er­a­tions with ex­pired pro­vin­cial tenures, or tenures that ex­pire be­fore June 2022, may op­er­ate with month-to-month tenures.

In ad­di­tion to align­ing with the ex­piry date of the ma­jor­ity of fed­eral fish li­cences, the Prov­ince will give no­tice of the change in ex­pec­ta­tions to fish farm op­er­a­tors.

This will give them time to adapt their op­er­a­tions to DFO re­quire­ments, strengthen their re­la­tion­ships with First Na­tions, and make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

Mean­while, dis­cus­sions are con­tin­u­ing, to re­solve con­cerns re­gard­ing spe­cific farms in the Broughton Ar­chi­pel­ago.

Not all in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties are against sal­mon farms. Ma­rine Har­vest has 15 for­mal agree­ments with BC First Na­tions, some go­ing back 20 years.

‘Ma­rine Har­vest has a 20-year track record of build­ing part­ner­ships with First Na­tions on BC’s coast and will con­tinue to work re­spect­fully and in a pos­i­tive man­ner,’ said Vin­cent Erenst, Ma­rine Har­vest Canada man­ag­ing di­rec­tor.

Farm raised sal­mon gen­er­ates more than $1.5 bil­lion to­wards the BC econ­omy and over 6,600 jobs. About 20 per cent of the peo­ple work­ing di­rectly for sal­mon farm com­pa­nies are First Na­tions.

Above: Fish farm in Bri­tish Columbia

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