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article imageB.C. government and First Nations to phase out 17 fish farms

By Karen Graham     Dec 15, 2018 in Environment
Vancouver - B.C. First Nations and the provincial government have agreed to shut down 17 open-net fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago in what may be the biggest shake-up in the history of the controversial fish farm industry.
The deal was announced on Friday is between three First Nations tribes, two fish farm companies, and the provincial government. While the move may seem to be drastic, with the decline in wild salmon stocks, it is necessary to protect and restore them for the future.
The three First Nations peoples include the Namgis First Nation, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nations, and Mamalilikulla First Nation, as well as two fish farm companies, Marine Harvest Canada and Cermaq Canada.
“Our governments have come together to help revitalize and protect wild salmon, and provide greater economic certainty for communities and local workers. These are the kinds of gains true reconciliation can deliver,” said Premier John Horgan in a release, reports City News.
“The success of this process shows that when the provincial government and First Nations work together in the spirit of recognition and respect, taking into consideration the concerns of the federal government and industry, we can deliver results in the best interests of all who live and work here.”
Hatchery-raised salmon.
Hatchery-raised salmon.
Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
According to the provincial government, a number of the fish farms will be immediately decommissioned while a few will continue to operate for another two to four years. But all will be gone by 2023.
“By the end of 2022, 10 farms will have ceased operations. The remaining seven farms will cease operations, unless First Nations-industry agreements and valid Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) licenses are in place by 2023,” read a release by the provincial government.
The province also noted that consultation with other First Nations groups who did not choose to participate in the deal will continue. Horgan also said the agreement includes a plan for monitoring and inspections by First Nations during the transition as well as using the latest technologies to address the sea lice problems.
The deal will be the start of a program to restore wild salmon habitat in the Broughton Archipelago, a group of islands on the northeastern flank of Queen Charlotte Strait on the coast of British Columbia. The archipelago has been the focus of controversy over commercial fish-farming by Norwegian aquaculture companies for many years.
A salmon fights the current on it s way home to spawn.
A salmon fights the current on it's way home to spawn.
Source: USFWS
As Digital Journal reported last month, the sea lice problem has become of major concern to not only those companies with a vested interest in salmon fisheries, but to environmentalists.
The development of drug and chemical resistance in sea lice is a problem that industry, government, and conservationists have known about for many years. SLICE, an emamectin benzoate drug, was first used on Canadian salmon farms in 1999 - but was approved on an emergency basis only. It wasn’t fully approved until 2009, but as use continued the trend toward resistance became apparent.
Bob Chamberlin, chief councilor of the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, said Indigenous Peoples have long demanded justice for the wild salmon in their territories, reports CTV News Canada. "What we're witnessing today is critical to Canada's development. We're seeing a jointly defined government, First Nations process come to shared recommendations."
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