“There’s a lot at stake here and a lot of questions that need answered”

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B.C. First Nations who work in British Columbia’s salmon farming industry in limbo over Liberal’s plans to phase out industry.

Aptnnews reports that First Nations in Pacific Canada are worried about the future of salmon farming.

Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan was sworn in last week as Justin Trudeau’s new fisheries minister replacing Jonathan Wilkinson. Jordan has yet to reveal how the department will enact Justin Trudeau pledge to B.C.’s open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment by 2025.

First Nations attitudes to the industry appear mixed at best. The Dzawada’enuxw are suing the federal government for granting nine fish farm licences in its territory without the nation’s consent. While fish farms operating in the Territories of the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, and Mamalilikulla First Nations will see at least 17 sites phased out in Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia, Canada, by 2023.

Chief John Smith
Tlowitsis Nation. PHOTO: Nanwakolas Council

But as of 2019, nearly 20% of the workforces of the top four salmon farming companies are Indigenous persons.

Chief John Smith of Tlowitsis First Nation on East Vancouver Island told the publication that: “There’s a lot at stake here and a lot of questions that need answered.”

Smith explained that the Liberal’s that the first time they heard about the news about the phase out was when it was announced.

“I was in Ottawa last year and thought we had a good understanding, but the government didn’t consult with us before their announcement,“ said Smith.

“I plan on going to Ottawa as soon as we can organize a meeting.”

Smith said that The Tlowitsis Nation has an agreement with Grieg Seafood and currently have three open-net salmon farms in their traditional waters – and are hoping for a fourth. “We want one more,” he told Aptnnews.

“These fish farms provide generously for us and we are very pleased with our relationship with Grieg. They not only pay us rent in respect to our Title, they have always respected us.”