B.C. government and 3 First Nations agree to cooperate on fish farms decisions

Decision-making power behind fish farms tenures and salmon aquaculture in B.C.’s Broughton Archipelago will be shared between three First Nations and the provincial government starting this week.

The letter of understanding will address concerns about fish farms in Broughton Archipelago

The First Nations and British Columbia have 90 days to develop a consensus of recommendations. (CBC)

Decision-making power about the future of fish farm tenures and salmon aquaculture in B.C.'s Broughton Archipelago will be shared between three First Nations and the provincial government starting this week.

A letter of understanding was signed Wednesday concerning B.C.'s largest marine park, located near the north end of Vancouver Island.

It brought together the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis, 'Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations and three provincial ministers.

"We've worked very hard over the past number of months to develop a set of principles and standards," said Bob Chamberlin, chief of the Kwikwasut'inukx Haxwa'mis First Nation.

"The process has been jointly developed, jointly designed and it will be jointly implemented."

Future of fish farms

It will address some of the long-standing concerns held by the First Nations about fish farms in the area.

Many First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago region oppose fish farms, saying they operate on traditional territories without consent and have a negative impact on wild salmon and other marine species in the area.

"We are going to put our best mind forward, our best effort forward, to ensure that the rights of our people and the rights of First Nations of British Columbia alike that rely on wild salmon stocks are represented," Chamberlin said.

He told Jason D'Souza, host of CBC's All Points West, that the province's willingness to listen and cooperate with consultations is a big step forward.

"The environment that [the agreement] has evolved from has been very encouraging," he said.

Locations of fish farms in B.C. The ones in orange are up for renewal. (CBC)

The province also highlighted the historical significance of the joint decision-making process.

"This 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 in a written statement.

The letter of understanding takes effect immediately, starting Wednesday, with a 90-day deadline to develop recommendations.

Decision-making power behind fish farms tenures and salmon aquaculture in B.C.'s Broughton Archipelago will be shared between three First Nations and the provincial government starting this week. 6:19

With files from All Points West.

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