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

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

Saanich police Chief Constable Scott Green (right) stands with Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers program coordinators Phil Downie and Gill Millam who received a Crime Stoppers International award for their work in 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Saanich Police Department)
Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Victoria School for Ideal Education at 2820 Belmont Avenue is the second school in Greater Victoria with an active confirmed COVID-19 exposure. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Private school becomes second Greater Victoria school with COVID-19 exposure

Victoria School for Ideal Education follows Lakeview Christian School in Saanich

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan votes at Luxton Hall during advance polls for the provincial election in Langford, B.C., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
2020 provincial election sets historical low turnout

Just over 1.9 million registered voters cast ballots in 2020

Oak Bay artist Jennifer Olson is one of 15 participating in this weekend’s Oak Bay Artists’ Exhibition, (Nov. 21 and 22) in the Monterey Recreation Centre’s Garry Oak Room. (Jennifer Olson Photo)
Oak Bay host pandemic-safe art exhibition

Art show to feature 15 artists at Monterey centre, Nov. 21 and 22

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Care home staff are diligent about wearing personal protective equipment when they are in contact with residents, but less so when they interact with other staff members, B.C. Seniors Advocate says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
More COVID-19 testing needed for senior home staff, B.C.’s advocate says

Employees mingling spotted as virus conductor in many workplaces

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Most Read