An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)

First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is denouncing attempts by the salmon farming industry to overturn a government decision to phase out operations in the Discovery Islands.

The FNLC cautions such a ruling by the Federal Court would run counter to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and create a situation where First Nations Title and Rights are at the mercy of the Crown.

“The FNLC refutes this, as Indigenous Peoples are the proper title holders and the original caretakers and stewards of our respective traditional territories. The FNLC urges Mowi Canada West Inc, Cermaq Canada Ltd and Grieg Seafood BC Ltd to exercise proactive conservation-based actions and work with First Nations in re-building Pacific salmon stocks,” a statement reads.

READ MORE: Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

On Jan. 18 the three salmon producers filed for separate judicial reviews of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the waters off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island by June 30, 2022.

Cermaq Canada said its goal with the court filing is “to allow time for engagement with the local First Nations to examine opportunities to achieve mutually beneficial agreements.”

During the transition farms are prohibited from adding new fish to the pens, which the companies are also hoping to reverse in order to transfer a final generation of young salmon from land-based hatcheries to the ocean pens for rearing and harvest.

The Discovery Islands decision jeopardizes 25 per cent of farmed salmon production and 1,500 jobs, and could put the entire $772-million industry at risk, according to previous statements.

“The FNLC calls for the decision to be upheld,” the statement reads. “It is clear that the majority of First Nations in B.C. oppose open net pen fish farming due to the detrimental effects it has on wild salmon: the 102 First Nations that support the removal of fish farms from the ocean are supportive of Minister Jordan’s decision.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s major salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

The 2012 Cohen Commission inquiry into the collapse of Fraser River sockeye recommended the removal of all salmon farms in the narrow waterways of the Discovery Islands by September 2020 if they exceeded minimal risk to wild stocks. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) risk assessments last year found the impacts were below that critical threshold, but public pressure resulting from conflicting scientific surveys resulted in three months of consultation with area First Nations and Jordan’s subsequent decision.

The declines are blamed on numerous factors, including climate change, over fishing and predation. Along with conservation groups, the FNLC also points to salmon farms as reservoirs for naturally occurring pathogens and sea lice that could transfer to wild juveniles in lethal quantities. While the scientific findings are hotly disputed, the FNLC asked Fisheries and Oceans Canada to implement the precautionary principle by banning salmon farms in the juvenile salmons’ critical out-migration route through the Discovery Islands.



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

First NationsFisheries and Oceans CanadaSalmon farming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP locate driver and vehicle, but are asking for video footage

Students from AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni write anti-bullying messages and draw colourful chalk art around their school for national anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, Feb. 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY LISA ARBANAS)
Chalk art brightens public walkway on Pink Shirt Day

Students from AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni write messages of hope

Mary Mason of Owls Path Foundation presents plans for a Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Centre to Port Alberni city council. The structure pictured in this image is the Copenhagen Opera House. (SCREENSHOT)
Nuu-chah-nulth cultural centre pitched for Port Alberni

Three possible locations put forward for multi-million-dollar centre

An endangered Vancouver Island marmot suns itself on rocks at Mount Washington, near the Comox Valley. Learn more about this endangered species with the Alberni Valley Nature Club. (PHOTO COURTESY SANDY MCRUER, AV NATURE CLUB)
Marmots, underwater mysteries part of Alberni Valley Nature Club lineup

Club kicks off membership drive with series of Zoom chats

The current exhibit at the Rollin Art Centre. The art gallery has COVID-19 protective measures in place. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre puts out a call to artists

Port Alberni’s Community Arts Council will hold a pandemic-inspired art exhibit

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read