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