A MOWI Canada West broodstock fish farm is located at Shaw Point on Johnstone Strait, northwest of Campbell River, B.C. Google Maps

Two B.C. First Nations call for fish farm removal from their territory

Two Campbell River-area First Nations are calling for the removal of a fish farm from their territory after more than 1,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon escaped from it in May.

The May 24 escape of Atlantic salmon from a finfish aquaculture site in Johnstone Strait prompted a call to cancel the provincial tenure for the farm.

In a letter dated June 9, Chief Brian Assu of We Wai Kai and Chief Chris Roberts of We Wai Kum advised the provincial government of the need to close the Shaw Point site, northwest of Campbell River, which has been operating by MOWI Inc. on a month-to-month basis since the expiry of the tenure.

“That site no longer has our consent to operate within our core territory,” Chief Assu said in a joint We Wai Kai-We Wai Kum press release, “we have advised the government that we expect the cancellation of the tenure and the remediation of the site to commence.”

The statements came as a surprise to MOWI Canada West, the company’s Director of Human Resources, Safety and Communications, Dean Dobrinsky, said.

“The release was a surprise. We’ve reached out to them to have further discussions,” Dobrinsky said.

He said that on May 24, there was a breach of their Shaw Point broodstock farm. Staff discovered a small, approximately 30 cm., hole in the net through which juvenile salmon escaped. The hole was discovered and MOWI conducted an investigation and completed its required reporting processes.

“We’ve done all the necessary repairs and things are back to normal,” Dobrinsky said.

The We Wai Kai/We Wai Kum press release says the escape at Shaw Point comes on the heels of efforts by We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum to develop a structure for collaborative governance of the finfish aquaculture industry in their territories. The province has failed to engage substantively to date, the First Nations said.

“We have tried to build on the work done by Nations in the Broughton Archipelago and negotiate a decision-making agreement that is based on the best science, the best data and the knowledge that our communities have,” said Chief Roberts, “but we need B.C. to be a partner in this.”

The escape of Atlantic salmon, the delay in notifying the First Nations about the escape, and the ongoing concerns about the impacts of sea lice on juvenile migrating salmon has brought this issue to a head.

“The system is broken,” said Chief Assu. “We cannot stand by and wait for B.C. to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, or for DFO to protect our vital resource. Our Nations have a right to wild salmon and the right to make decisions about how our territory is used. We will exercise that right, starting with the site at Shaw Point.”

“For countless generations, our people have cared for, harvested and relied on salmon as they return to our local spawning grounds and as they migrate through Laichkwiltach waters to many rivers, including the Fraser,” said Chief Roberts. “We are ready to exercise our right as decision-makers and stewards over our lands and waters. We hope that government will partner with us in a meaningful way to achieve real progress.”

Dobrinsky said the company has a tenure agreement for that site with the federal government.

“Obviously, we value our relationships with the First Nations and I can’t comment on their intent here. Our goal is to move forward with them as it always has been to work in a collaborative manner and explore whatever options we have for the site,” he said. “We reached out to the Nations at the onset and tried to engage in some dialogue with them. We really value our relationship.

“Our intent is to continue to build on this relationship with them and find some good solutions.”

RELATED: VIDEO: Salmon babies in safe haven on Vancouver Island before hitting open ocean

RELATED: B.C. salmon farm inspection deal reached with Indigenous people


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverFirst NationsSalmon farming

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

Just Posted

Commercial plaza proposed for Rocky Creek and Ludlow intersection

Town Council directed the application proceed for further consideration

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

South Wellington Elementary demolition not taking place next school year

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School trustees vote against razing south-end school in 2020/21

One piper piping during the pandemic

Tribute to health care workers reaches the 100th performance

Town of Ladysmith receives $3.3 million grant for Arts & Heritage Hub

The funds will go to creating artist studios around the Machine Shop and maintaining heritage assets

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Most Read