The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is continuing to work with First Nations to address issues over fish farms.

Starting immediately, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be holding consultations with the Holmalco, Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nations about the current aquaculture sites in the Discovery Islands. 

Those discussions will help form the government’s decision on whether or not to renew open-net fish pen licenses in the area.

The DFO says it will continue to use a collaborative and area-based approach with the First Nations, meaning it will be taking into consideration Indigenous knowledge, social, economic, geographic, and environmental factors when making decisions. 

The department has completed nine peer-reviewed, scientific risk assessments to determine the impact of interactions between wild Pacific salmon and pathogens from salmon farms.

The results of those assessments determined that the transfer of the pathogens pose a minimal risk to the diversity of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon in the area.

Regional Director, for Fisheries Management in the Pacific Region Andrew Thomson, says both the response to the risk assessment report and the opinions of members will be heard. 

“(We will try) To make sure that we have a clear understanding of the room as to the risk assessment and what the science advice says. But we will then also be trying of course to respond to their concerns about any potential impact that the aquaculture sites are maybe having to their food, social and ceremonial needs or any other concerns that they may have.”

“Our intent in these discussions and the ones we’ve had in the past is to try to address and answer the questions the First Nations have and address the concerns they may have and whether or not changes are required to traditions of life or other modifications that could be made in order to address those concerns more fully,” added Thomson.

The DFO has been renewing aquaculture licences in the Discovery Islands on an annual basis and the goal of talking with local First Nations will be to see if the licenses should be renewed when the December deadline comes around. 

To learn more, visit the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website