Government of Canada consulting with First Nations in Discovery Islands
September 28, 2020
Vancouver, British Columbia – The Government of Canada understands that strong, collaborative relationships with Indigenous peoples regarding the management of the marine environment will lead to better outcomes for their communities and help support healthy oceans.
Starting immediately, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will begin consultations with the Holmalco, Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla'amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nations about the aquaculture sites in the Discovery Islands. The information exchanged will inform the government’s decision on whether or not to renew aquaculture licenses in the area, prior to the December-2020 deadline.
The department has completed nine peer-reviewed, scientific risk assessments to determine the impact of interactions between wild Pacific salmon and pathogens from salmon farms and inform the response to Cohen Commission’s Recommendation 19. The results of these assessments concluded that the transfer of these pathogens pose a minimal risk to abundance and diversity of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon in the area.
Moving forward, the department will continue to take a collaborative and area-based approach to aquaculture management and decision making. An area-based approach takes into consideration Indigenous knowledge, social, economic, geographic, and environmental factors. It also increases collaboration among parties as the government advances its commitment to develop a responsible plan to transition marine net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters. The area-based approach to aquaculture will see the department work closely with the Province of British Columbia, First Nations communities, industry, and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive and pragmatic approach to aquaculture while critical work continues in key areas such as stock assessment, research, habitat protection, restoration and enhancement.
Wild Pacific salmon face a multitude of stressors, and the government remains fully committed to their protection. Pacific Salmon are culturally significant to Indigenous peoples and important to the livelihood of coastal communities. Healthy salmon stocks are also vital to the ecosystem, the economy, and to the social fabric of British Columbia’s coastal communities – which is why the government has a robust regulatory program for the management of aquaculture in British Columbia.
“This government is committed to an area-based management approach to aquaculture, and we recognize the concerns raised by partners that these particular farms may not be the best fit for this location nor for the adjacent communities. We will be consulting with each First Nation within the Discovery Islands area, and the information and views they provide will inform my decision on whether or not to renew licences for these farms this December, and in the future.”
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
DFO will be consulting with the Holmalco, Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla'amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nations.
In response to the Cohen Commission’s Recommendation 19, DFO looked at the overall risk estimate to Fraser River Sockeye salmon from diseases that occur in Atlantic salmon farms. The assessments focused on farms located in the Discovery Islands area.
The assessments concluded that the pathogens found in Atlantic salmon farms in the Discovery Islands area pose no more than a minimal risk to Fraser River Sockeye Salmon abundance and diversity under the current fish health management practices. A summary of the findings can be found on the DFO website.
DFO has been renewing aquaculture licences in the Discovery on an annual basis. These are set to expire in December 2020. In the interim, licence holders are required to submit fish health data to DFO, similar to all other marine finfish licenses in British Columbia, which is then posted on the DFO website.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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