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

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Merry lottery win for Shuswap man

Five-dollar scratch ticket a $100,000 winner for Sicamous resident

Legion bell prank hits sour note

Anger erupts after Summerland Legion member removes bell from Peachland Legion

Former optician guilty of assaulting minor

Sex offence took place in Salmon Arm more than 25 years ago

Kelowna Parkinson’s SuperWalk team donates to local shelter

Good Vibrations donated $300 to Inn from the Cold

Crook’s Corner

A slice of this week’s arts and entertainment happenings in the North Okanagan at a glance

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Feds agree to give provinces 75 per cent of pot tax revenues

Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the agreement today

Shuswap student entrepreneurs donate profits

Youth start their own businesses, learn about charitable giving

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

Woman sought in Kamloops stabbing

Kamloops RCMP are looking for the woman they believed stabbed a man on Sunday

Emergency response ‘well executed’ in B.C. carbon monoxide poisoning

Emergency Health Services talks about how first responders dealt with this ‘mass casualty event’

Update: Dog inside stolen vehicle in Oliver reunited with owner

A black Honda CRV was stolen from the Oliver Chevron early Sunday morning

WestJet Christmas video turns children’s wishes into reality

This year’s annual video took a new spin on the 12 days of Christmas

Most Read