BC farmers set out principles for state’s ‘transition’
British Columbia’s salmon farmers have produced a report setting out their vision for the transition from the existing open net-pen system of aquaculture.
The BC Salmon Farmers Association report, BC Salmon Aquaculture Transition: Then & Now, stresses that the interests of the state’s indigenous First Nations must be at the heart of the transition strategy.
In July 2022, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) released a framework for discussion regarding the net pen transition plan for BC. The proposal for transition of the salmon farming sector to be First Nations led is taking place concurrently with DFO’s development of a new framework.
Diane Morrison, Board Chair of the BC Salmon Farmers Association and Managing Director of Mowi Canada West, said: “Working together with First Nations who are interested in aquaculture is essential to our future on the west coast. These principles will ensure we transition in a way that progressively minimises interactions with wild salmon and be led by the First Nations in whose territories we operate.”
To be compatible with the sector’s vision for salmon farming within the territories of First Nations, BC Salmon Farmers suggest the following Fundamental Principles be included:
First Nations Right to Self-Determination: The Transition Plan must fully recognize and support Indigenous rights to self-determination and the rights of First Nations to make informed decisions on matters that impact their territories.
Reconciliation: The Transition Plan must ensure continued opportunity for capacity building within Nations and equitable economic opportunities – as well as establish a framework for enduring long-term relationships.
Governance: The Transition Plan must include a governance model based upon tripartite agreement (First Nations, federal, and provincial governments) – and provide a robust role in governance and oversight for Indigenous rights holders in whose territories the salmon farms operate.
Sustainable Sector Growth: The Transition Plan must support the creation of an attractive business environment that signals Canada is committed to advancing growth in sustainable salmon farming in coastal BC. A transition growth plan that builds towards increasing production volumes.
Alignment with Federal Initiatives: The Transition Plan must support investment into innovative practices and technology, and other federal government priorities, especially the Climate Change Plan and Blue Economy Strategy.
Trust and Transparency: The Transition Plan must provide clear communication processes and outlets, including engagement opportunities, that will help to foster a better understanding of the industry and create trust and transparency with local First Nations who have aquaculture within their territories, as well as First Nations who have an interest, and the broader Canadian public.
By working through these principles, the report says, the Transition Plan has the potential to create a level of business certainty required for the long-term stability of the BC salmon farming sector and allow the sector to play an even greater role in the ongoing process of reconciliation in BC, community vitality, and the restoration of wild salmon. It could also help to advance Canada’s national Blue Economy strategy.
“Transition is not new to our sector,” said Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. “Like all farmers, we have been transitioning for decades to adapt to changing conditions. We have been investing in and implementing cutting-edge technologies and innovations to improve our processes, and progressively minimise interactions with the surrounding marine environment, including wild salmon.”