B.C. salmon farms given back to indigenous communities

“Free, prior and informed consent.”

According to a report in The Columbia Valley Pioneer, that’s the key phrase in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which B.C. Premier John Horgan has vowed to implement in a province that has long struggled with unresolved aboriginal title and a lack of treaties over much of its area.
Consequently, as Horgan unveiled an agreement with three Indigenous communities to shut down up to 17 net-pen salmon farms in their traditional territory off B.C.’s coast, that goal came closer.

Is this a veto over development?

Horgan and other politicians frequently say the UN declaration is not a veto over development, but the province’s retreat from the Broughton Archipelago amounts to much the same thing. However, by 2023, ten of the long-standing provincial tenures between Kingcome and Knight inlets off the north end of Vancouver Island will have gone. The other seven can continue only with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, ‘Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations consent.

Major salmon producers give up sites

Two of the major salmon farming companies, Marine Harvest and Cermaq, will get little in return by giving up their sites. Although, they will be allowed to apply to the federal government for new aquaculture licences elsewhere on the B.C. coast. However, the company representatives have stated that they intend to protect the jobs of 600 employees affected by the shutdowns.

Namgis community demand the removal of salmon farms

Scientific study of salmon farms and their effects on migrating wild salmon is to continue, and Indigenous communities are to establish monitoring and inspection of remaining sites in the region. Subsequently, whilst all sides have praised the new spirit of cooperation, a ‘Namgis councillor said the deal doesn’t change the community’s long-standing demand that all ocean-based salmon farms will haved to be moved out of their territory.

Editor: Victoria Rose

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