An open-net salmon farm off the B.C. coast at Venture Point (Black Press files)

John Horgan wades back into salmon farms

Premier, ministers visit protest site off Vancouver Island

Premier John Horgan headed for the remote island community of Alert Bay Tuesday, to meet with aboriginal people protesting the establishment of net-pen salmon farms in their territory north of Vancouver Island.

Horgan flew to Alert Bay at the invitation of Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. He was accompanied by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, the MLA for North Island.

While in opposition, B.C. NDP politicians campaigned against the net-pen industry and led a committee that recommended B.C.’s North Coast be kept off limits to them.

Two net-pen salmon farms near the Discovery Islands have been occupied by the members of the Mugamagw, ’Namgis and Mamalikilulla First Nations since late August. Popham’s constituency office was briefly occupied in late September by a group of young people claiming solidarity with the aboriginal communities.

Jeremy Dunn, spokesman for the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said the industry has 20 agreements with B.C. first nations to operate in coastal waters, and the Broughton Archaepelago region is the only place where aboriginal communities have refused to meet them.

The B.C. government delegation is also meeting with representatives of the Kuterra land-based Atlantic salmon farm. The company announced in March that it had reached “steady state” production of salmon after three and a half years of development of its land-based recirculating water system.

Kuterra is owned by the ’Namgis First Nation at Alert Bay, and lists Tides Canada as its lead funder and advisor. It also receives funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a federally funded organization chaired by former Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie.

Kuterra stated in March that the ’Namgis can no longer support the operation financially, and called for new investors to help the land-based industry get established.

Ocean salmon farming has a controversial history in B.C. The industry generated $787 million in value in 2016 and employs about 5,000 people in remote coastal areas, and farmed salmon is the most valuable agricultural export from B.C. But it has been frequently subject to protests and campaigns claiming Atlantic salmon carry parasites and diseases that threaten native Pacific salmon species.

The federal government established the Cohen Commission to study the collapse of the 2009 sockeye run, including the impact of salmon farms. The 2010 run then came in with a record 30 million fish, but Justice Bruce Cohen’s commission reported a general decline in sockeye runs since 1990 from Washington state up the Central Coast. The decline was noted in the Skeena, Nass and up to Yukon’s Klukshu and Alaska’s Alsek Rivers.

Cohen recommended that no additional salmon farms be established around the Discovery Islands until 2020, by which time the industry should demonstrate that the risk of open-pen operations is “minimal.”

Just Posted

UPDATE: Local skier being mourned at Big White

He was a local snowboarder, who went to Rutland high school.

Waiting to be seated

Kelowna West MLA-elect Ben Stewart won’t be sworn in in time for tomorrow’s B.C. budget

Cold weather expected to linger in the Okanagan

Although there were no snowfall records set in Kelowna with the 10 centimetres accumulated

Crash in West Kelowna

Emergency services are working on clearing a crash that happened at around 9:07 a.m. Monday morning.

Trial date for Rutland killing to be set today

A trial date for the man charged in the 2014 murder of Christopher Ausman

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

No charges for B.C. Mountie in car wash shooting

A report found the Salmon Arm officer fired 14 bullets at the man’s truck

One of Ighani’s trials may move to Kelowna

The matter is complicated by the fact that two complainants and the accused are all in custody

Suspect faces charges of possession of stolen property, weapon

Two people arrested outside Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm Saturday, woman released without charge

VIDEO: SUV races moose along Similkameen roadway

Moose pose highway danger, and they are pretty fast too

VIDEO: B.C. deer caught obeying traffic signs

A herd of deer in Fernie, B.C. is getting attention online after stopping for a stop sign

Petition wants fundraiser dropped for family of man cleared in Boushie’s death

Group says GoFundMe is profiting from the young Indigenous man’s death

Porch lights turn on for Canadian teen behind #BeccaToldMeTo movement

New Brunswick’s Rebecca Schofield had asked her Facebook followers to perform random acts of kindness

Most Read