Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Farmed salmon: First Nations ask to meet Justin Trudeau

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British Columbia, which shares national salmon production with the Atlantic provinces, alone produces more than two-thirds of the country's farmed salmon. (Archive photo)

  • Sophie Chevance (View profile)Sophie Chevance

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In front of a consultation process which continues with Ottawa, British Columbia First Nations are calling for an emergency meeting with Justin Trudeau to reaffirm his intention to end open-net salmon farming in the Pacific Ocean ;by 2025.

Since the summer of 2022, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has been conducting consultations, among others, with the provincial government, First Nations and stakeholders in the farmed salmon industry to establish a transition plan for sustainable aquaculture.

The goal: Limit interactions with declining wild Pacific salmon species and make the salmon farming sector a leader in Canada's blue economy.

But things are not going as planned: the consultations, which were due to end in June 2023, are continuing indefinitely and the transition plan for the industry is still pending.

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Okisollo salmon farm, near Campbell River, Vancouver Island.

We want to share our experience and our concerns with the Prime Minister, explains Bob Chamberlin, president of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance (FNWSA).

According to the Alliance, which represents more than 120 First Nations across British Columbia, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is quietly undermining the Prime Minister's promise and siding with industry.

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The expectations of the First Nations are not really taken into account. From what we see from the latest exchanges, it seems that the federal government intends to put in place stricter rules and transparency for the industry, but without forcing it to leave the ocean.

A quote from Bob Chamberlin, president of the FNWSA

Faced with the ministry's response sent to the Homalco First Nation during phase 4 of the consultations, it is painful to see that the dice have been loaded from the start, says Chief Darren Blaney.

In addition to an emergency meeting with Justin Trudeau, the FNWSA is also requesting a meeting with New Democratic Leader, Jagmeet Singh, as well as Conservative Leader, Pierre Poilievre.

Political leaders in this country, regardless of their allegiance, must understand how critical it is to protect wild Pacific salmon. This is about embodying a real example of reconciliation in the country, underlines Bob Chamberlin.

When this text was published, the Prime Minister's office had not yet indicated whether a meeting would be possible between the federal government and the First Nations of British Columbia. For its part, Fisheries and Oceans Canada had not yet responded to our questions.

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