fish farms
First Nations chiefs and provincial government ministers sign a letter of understanding formalizing discussions around fish farms. (@UBCIC on Twitter)

Following last week’s announcement of new regulations for fish farm tenures in B.C., the provincial government announced that it has signed an agreement with First Nations to formalize ongoing discussions around farm operations near the Broughton Archipelago.

The parties agreed on Wednesday to engage in a government-to-government process to address concerns held by First Nations about fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago.

Chiefs from the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis, and Mamalilikulla First Nations signed a letter of understanding (LOU) along with three ministers of the province.

The government-to-government process acknowledges the impacts of the fish farms on the environment, as well as their impacts on the Aboriginal title and rights of the First Nations.

The LOU states that the parties will develop a series of recommendations and actions by no later than Sept. 30, 2018.

“This [LOU] is an important step in recognizing how we must work respectfully with Indigenous peoples to protect wild salmon,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Indigenous groups say the land and waters on which the farms operate were never ceded, and have raised concerns about the impact of those farms on native salmon populations.

“We are pleased to continue to work with British Columbia in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),” said Bob Chamberlin, Elected Chief Councillor of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation.

“We have never consented to the presence of these fish farms in our territories. We look forward to a process that respects the need for our consent going forward.”

Last week, Chamberlin said the recently announced fish farm regulations were “years overdue,” and that fish farming should move to on-land closed contained facilities if wild salmon populations are to survive.

 

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