Introduction to the Kitasoo Xai'xais Finfish Transition Plan

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has provided funding to First Nations to develop aquaculture and salmon-farm transition plans in order to improve the industry’s sustainability. Importantly, we embrace this task as our own, and while innovation and technology will be a focus point in our discussion, our conversation is expected to go beyond the topic of salmon farming and towards community interests in environment, seafood and economy. 

Over the next few months, members of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation are encouraged to engage and provide input on an advanced model for our aquaculture economy within the Territory.  The Kitasoo Development Corporation will be providing information and facilitating several engagements to openly and respectfully discuss the future of aquaculture in Kitasoo Xai’xais Territory. 

We will have many opportunities for members to engage and offer their perspectives on the existing salmon farm industry, and if and how we can make it better. We want to talk to as many people as possible, including the youth and what they see for our future.

Please read below for further information. Join us online and in person and help us create a plan for the future of this industry and for our village. We look forward to the good discussions ahead! 

 

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How did this “Transition Plan” initiative come about?

In 2019, the federal Liberal government in Ottawa and the DFO Minister made a political commitment to ‘cancel’ all the ocean-based finfish aquaculture licenses in BC and only allow for land-based farm operations. However, the government did not realize that so many First Nations and coastal communities in BC were very socially and economically invested in the industry, and that land-based farming has many different operational requirements and is not a replacement for BC’s rural economies.

The Coalition for First Nations for Finfish Stewardship (also known as the “Coalition”) is a group of First Nations that united and advocated for First Nations to make their own choices and plans for the future of this industry. This effort was crucial and helped to change DFO’s path to ‘cancel’ all of BC’s salmon farms. Instead, the government is now relying on First Nations and industry to create a more sustainable future by focusing on the health of wild salmon (and other fish!) and continually reduce negative impacts on wild salmon and the environment.

 

Our Community’s Contribution: December Update

Our goal is to develop a “Kitasoo Xai’xais Transition Plan” that will be used as a guide for the future of sustainable finfish aquaculture in KX Territory. In the fall of 2022, our Nation received a small amount of funding to begin necessary community engagement, and the Kitasoo Development Corporation has taken the lead on this process. 

In an effort to gather information about options in aquaculture for the community, Kitasoo Xai’xais Councillor and DevCorp General Manager, Isaiah Robinson, accepted an invitation from Mowi Canada West to join several other First Nation representatives to explore global technology and innovation practices that are currently being explored in Mowi’s Norweigan facilities. 

Robinson toured facilities and engaged in discussions with Mowi’s top scientists and innovators about advanced tools and techniques that could improve salmon farming and salmon enhancement in British Columbia’s coastal waters. The information learned from this experience will be shared with the community so members can make informed decisions about the future of aquaculture in KX Territory.

Our goal is to use conversation and input from the community to get opinions on our existing salmon farms and how we can improve the industry for future generations. 

 Over the next few months, we look forward to working together as a community to plan for our future. We also welcome new ideas about the possibilities as well as your concerns about the industry. Conversations thus far have identified the following topics and concerns to further investigate:

 

  • Identifying negative impacts on our local wild salmon, and exploring the localized issue of sea lice and other disease/parasite transfer from farmed to wild salmon;
  • Understanding differences in salmon farming and impacts across BC – and how our Central Coast environment is similar and different;
  • Possibility of farming other aquaculture species, and exploring different methods and technologies;
  • Understanding the general health and status of our local salmon runs;
  • Understanding the importance of jobs from salmon farming relative to other industries;
  • Ensuring the community receives information and is properly consulted on all these issues;
  • Better understanding of our local seafood industry and our own seafood access; and 
  • General jobs and economy in KX

 

So what’s a Transition Plan about?

The Transition Plan is a process AND a specific planning document. DFO will use our plan along with others to create a larger Transition Plan document that will apply across the province. This does not mean we will all be subject to the same conditions, but we expect an “Area Based Management” approach to take effect. One of DFO’s objectives is to support Indigenous Relationships and Reconciliation. If First Nations are able to determine the operations of this industry in their respective territories for themselves, it’s a step forward in the relationship with DFO that has been damaged so many times in the past. DFO’s other “Transition Plan” objectives include: reduce impacts on wild salmon, improve trust and transparency, and foster innovation in BC salmon farming.

 

A Brief Summary of Salmon Farming in KX Territory

 Salmon farming in KX Territory began in the 1990s. As a result of community consultation, Kitasoo Xai’xais chose to pursue a partnership with Nutreco in 1999. The original agreement that was made with Nutreco started what is now commonly known in industry and education as the Kitasoo Xai’xais Model

 The Kitasoo Xai’xais Model is our Nation’s own management approach to the salmon farming industry that we’ve been practicing for decades. The KX Model has been the highest standard across BC for years. As other Nations learn about it, they have adapted it to the interests of their own communities.

 Although the Kitasoo Model has become a renowned framework, it is also an evolving representation of Kitasoo Xai’xais standards, and the community’s input is crucial to making it better. 

 

What is sustainable finfish aquaculture?

 Sustainability is usually evaluated by factors related to environmental, economic, and social expectations. 

 Our expectations and social interests in aquaculture may change over time making sustainable aquaculture a dynamic concept. Science, research, innovation, and technology also change over time and help to increase our understanding of aquaculture, wild salmon interactions, and the general ecosystem. 

As a community, we can identify monitoring priorities and implement our own monitoring protocol as a way to raise the sustainable standards in our local industry. As we learn more over time, we can decide for ourselves whether it meets our ongoing community interests and priorities in regards to environment, economic and social needs.

 

Get Involved!

We want to know what’s important to you! What do you want to know about the industry? What kind of innovation and monitoring would you like to see become part of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Model? Are there 

We want to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to engage with the development of a KX Transition Plan. Here are some ways you can learn, interact, and provide feedback: 

  • Connect with community members through the KDC Community Engagement Facebook Page
  • Sign up for the KDC e-newsletter to find out about community engagement sessions, surveys, and new information
  • Attend upcoming community meetings starting with the second week of January
  • Provide feedback and suggestions through surveys 

 

FURTHER BACKGROUND AND RESOURCES: 

BC Ministry of Agriculture. 2018. Minister of Agriculture’s Advisory Council on Finfish Aquaculture Final Report and Recommendations.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/fisheries-and-aquaculture/minister-or-agriculture-s-advisory-council-on-finfish-aquaculture/maacfa-2017-docs/minister_of_agricultures_advisory_council_on_finfish_aquaculture_final_report_and_appendices.pdf

DFO Transition Plan Statement (2022) https://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/aquaculture/bc-transition-cb/cadre-discussion-framework-eng.html

 

DFO. 2022. Farmed species profiles. https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/sector-secteur/species-especes/index-eng.htm