Government, First Nations chart path for aquaculture in Broughton Archipelago

Victoria – Friday, December 14, 2018 10:14 AM

A ground-breaking government-to-government process has delivered recommendations that will protect and restore wild salmon stocks, allow an orderly transition plan for open-pen finfish for the Broughton Archipelago and create a more sustainable future for local communities and workers.

The recommendations come out of a process undertaken by the Province and the ‘Namgis First Nation, the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nations and Mamalilikulla First Nation, following a letter of understanding (LOU) regarding the future of finfish aquaculture in the Broughton. The recommendations have been agreed to by the two fish farm operators in the Broughton: Marine Harvest Canada and Cermaq Canada.

“Our governments have come together to help revitalize and protect wild salmon, and provide greater economic certainty for communities and local workers. These are the kinds of gains true reconciliation can deliver,” said Premier John Horgan. “The success of this process shows that when the provincial government and First Nations work together in the spirit of recognition and respect, taking into consideration the concerns of the federal government and industry, we can deliver results in the best interests of all who live and work here.”

 

“Our Nations, together with many British Columbians, have been raising serious concerns about this industry for decades. We are grateful that governments and industry are finally starting to listen and work with us to find solutions that aim to protect and restore wild salmon and other resources,” said Chief Robert Chamberlin, Elected Chief Councillor of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and First Nations’ Chair of the steering committee. “There is much that still must be done, but these recommendations are a significant positive step in a better direction.”

 

The Province and the three First Nations endorse the recommendations, which:

 

create an orderly transition of 17 farms, operated by Marine Harvest Canada and Cermaq Canada, from the Broughton area between 2019 and 2023;

establish a farm-free migration corridor in the Broughton in the short term to help reduce harm to wild salmon;

develop a First Nations-led monitoring and inspection program to oversee those farms during the transition, which will include compliance requirements and corrective measures;

implement new technologies to address environmental risks including sea lice;

call for immediate action to enhance wild salmon habitat restoration and rehabilitation in the Broughton;

confirm a willingness to work together to put into place the agreements and protocols necessary to implement the recommendations, including continued collaboration with the federal government; and

secure economic development and employment opportunities by increasing support for First Nations implementation activities and industry transition opportunities outside the Broughton.

The Province, First Nations and industry are committed to working with the federal government to implement the recommendations.

 

“These recommendations show that we can implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and find respectful solutions in a timely manner,” Chamberlin said. “This process respected the need for Indigenous peoples’ consent and allowed us to work together to establish an orderly transition of the finfish farm tenures, while recognizing the needs of other governments, industry and local communities.”

 

On a tenure-by-tenure basis, the recommendations provide for an orderly transition of 17 fish-farm sites between 2019 and 2023. Some farms will be immediately decommissioned; some will remain in operations for various terms (two to four years). By the end 2022, 10 farms will have ceased operations.  The remaining seven farms will cease operations, unless First Nations-industry agreements and valid Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) licences are in place by 2023.

 

“The process that was established was an incredible opportunity for all parties to work together to find a solution that could be accepted by all. I want to thank the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla Nations, as well as Cermaq and Marine Harvest, for working in good faith. I’m very proud of what was accomplished,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture.

 

The recommendations provide for a transition that allows industry to respond and provides an opportunity for transparent monitoring and oversite. Further, the recommendations include timeframes for both transition action and broader monitoring plans – proposed as January and March 2019, respectively.

 

The Province continues to engage in consultation on the tenures with other First Nations in the area who decided not to participate in the letter of understanding.

 

Quotes:

 

Diane Morrison, managing director, Marine Harvest –

 

“We approached these discussions seeking solutions that would both address the concerns of the First Nations and maintain our commitment to the well-being of our employees, support businesses and stakeholders. Going forward, we see the implementation of the recommendations as a positive step toward building mutual goodwill, trust, and respect as we work to earn First Nations consent of our operations in their Territories.”

 

David Kiemele, managing director, Cermaq Canada –

 

“We would like to thank the Broughton LOU steering committee for their openness to dialogue and we are pleased to move forward, together, in a way which will help to protect and enhance wild salmon populations and ensure the continued sustainable and responsible production of farmed salmon for generations to come. We are also committed to participating in the creation of the Indigenous monitoring and inspection program which establishes transparent oversight of our operations.”

 

Learn More:

Steering committee recommendations: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Steering_Committee_Broughton_Recommendations.pdf

For the technical deck, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Technical_Deck_Broughton_Recommendations.pdf

Two backgrounders follow.

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Aquaculture in B.C. and the Broughton process – B.C. salmon farm tenure policy

In June, 2018 the Government of British Columbia announced a new policy guiding the licensing of aquaculture land tenures within the province.

Beginning in June 2022, the Province will grant Land Act tenures only to fish farm operators who have satisfied Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that their operations will not adversely impact wild salmon stocks, and who have negotiated agreements with the First Nation(s) in whose territory they propose to operate.

The year 2022 aligns with the current renewal date of the substantial majority of fish licences issued by DFO. Operations with expired provincial tenures, or tenures that expire before June 2022, may operate with month-to-month tenures.

 

Broughton process

On Jan. 30, 2018, the Government of British Columbia and Broughton-area First Nations began initial discussions to resolve long-standing concerns regarding specific farms in the Broughton Archipelago.

In June 2018, the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations and the Province signed a letter of understanding, formalizing their ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton area, and establishing a joint decision-making process.

Between June and November 2018, the steering committee heard from and engaged with representatives from the DFO, Cermaq Canada and Marine Harvest Canada.

On Nov. 30, 2018, the Broughton steering committee, made up of members from the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations, and the Province of British Columbia, submitted their consensus recommendations. These recommendations include:

2019 – four farms close.

2020 – two farms close, with decommissioning of one of those farms extending into 2021.

2021 – one farm closes, with decommissioning extending until 2022.

2022 – three farms close, with decommissioning extending until 2023; and three farms have the potential to continue operations subject to securing First Nations – industry agreements and valid DFO licences. Additional time is required for decommissioning.

2023 – four tenures have potential to continue operations subject to securing First Nations  – industry agreements and valid DFO licences. Additional time is required for decommissioning.

First Nations Monitoring and Inspection Program

Fundamental to achieving the consensus recommendation was the steering committee’s recommendation that a First Nations-led monitoring and inspection program be immediately put in place to oversee the operations of the fish farms during the transition of the tenures.

The First Nations’ monitoring and inspection program will monitor fish health and screen for sea lice, pathogens, disease agents and diseases before and after introduction of fish into the fish farms. The program will improve public reporting and have compliance and corrective measures to ensure the required standards are met.

Federal and provincial aquaculture responsibilities

In 2009, a B.C. Supreme Court decision determined a fish farm operation was a “fishery” within the meaning of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which give the Parliament of Canada exclusive legislative authority in relation to “seacoast and inland fisheries”.

Following that decision, Canada and British Columbia entered into an agreement on the regulation of aquaculture in the province. The Canada-British Columbia agreement on aquaculture management (2010) sets out the responsibilities of both governments with respect to the management and regulation of the aquaculture sector in B.C., including making best efforts to harmonize their decision-making criteria and synchronize their decision-making processes. Under the agreement:

  • Canada may issue aquaculture licenses under the Fisheries Act for all aquaculture activities to be undertaken in B.C.;
  • C. may issue land tenures under the Land Act for aquaculture purposes; and
  • Canada and B.C. will make best efforts to harmonize their decision-making criteria and synchronize their decision-making process.

 

Partnering with First Nations to create shared prosperity

In support of its commitment to reconciliation, the provincial government is building government-to-government relationships with Indigenous peoples in B.C. based on partnership, respect and recognition of title and rights. Every B.C. cabinet minister’s mandate letter includes a requirement to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Province is also working with Indigenous partners and industry to put this commitment into action through legislative and policy changes and agreements that advance First Nations’ participation in decision-making and economic activity. This work helps to grow and transform the economy for the benefit of all British Columbians. For example:

A government-to-government process, created in consultation with industry, that has led to agreement on the path forward in the Broughton Archipelago to protect wild salmon, address long-standing First Nations concerns about fish farms and sustain resource jobs in the region.

New legislation on environmental assessment, developed in collaboration with Indigenous partners, that gives First Nations a real and meaningful say in projects happening in their territory. Having Indigenous consent from the beginning means a more certain and efficient process, where good projects can move forward faster.

A major reconciliation agreement with Shíshálh Nation that supports self-determination and economic prosperity by creating new decision-making structures, land-use planning processes, participation in local forestry, and land transfers that provide economic development opportunities to the Nation. Receiving broad support from local industry, the agreement is seen as a model where Indigenous rights, economic growth and protection of the environment can be aligned.

Partnerships between LNG Canada and First Nations that ensure communities benefit from jobs, business opportunities and the increased revenue and growth the LNG project will bring. An understanding of the importance of consultation and meaningful partnership with First Nations has led to support from the Haisla Nation where the facility will be located and community and project agreements with First Nations along the pipeline route. Overall, through the life of the project, LNG Canada will provide billions of dollars to First Nations in capacity-building, training and education, contracting, and employment and community benefits.

Sharing provincial mineral tax revenue from the Brucejack Gold Mine with Tahltan Central Government and Nisga’a Nation (about $7 million and $8 million, respectively, each year), making the Nations partners in a significant resource activity on their territory. This funding will have a positive economic and social effect on communities in these Nations, and benefit the region. The company took a partnership approach from the beginning, setting the stage for a better project to move ahead in a way that respects the rights of First Nations.

Long-term stable funding for First Nations from sharing a portion of gaming revenue, which will be a cornerstone of Budget 2019. The new revenue stream will fund priorities, such as public service capacity, infrastructure, and health and community wellness. The provincial government is working with the First Nations Gaming Commission and First Nations Leadership Council to finalize a structure for revenue sharing and accountability measures, to be made public in February 2019.