Issue around BC salmon tenures remains murky in advisory council's report

Liza Mayer
April 06, 2018
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The requirement to acquire First Nation approval as a condition of continuing operations at existing business sites is unclear and would be unworkable in practice, says BCSFA
The requirement to acquire First Nation approval as a condition of continuing operations at existing business sites is unclear and would be unworkable in practice, says BCSFA BCSFA
A report from a provincial advisory council concerning the future of British Columbia's aquaculture operations has, for the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BSCSFA), left a major issue ambiguous.

That issue is the council’s recommendation that fish farms in British Columbia may be required to have agreements in place with the First Nations in the area before the provincial government approves any new or replacement tenures. Twenty fish fam leases are up for renewal in June.

While the association says it agrees in principle with the recommendation, it “will be unworkable in practice without further clarification,” it said in a statement.

“While salmon farmers agree collaborating with local First Nations when working on Crown land is crucial and have a long track record of doing so, as currently drafted the recommendation that would require Crown tenure holders to acquire First Nation agreements as a condition of continuing operations at existing business sites is unclear and would be unworkable in practice.

“The Association cannot support that recommendation as written, but would welcome the opportunity to work with other stakeholders and government to clarify it,” said BCSFA.

BC salmon farmers have agreements with 20 First Nations and many of the 6,600 jobs supported by the province’s salmon farms are held by people of First Nations heritage.

Earlier this year, BCSFA Jeremy Dunn told Aquaculture North America (ANA) that there is currently a required First Nations involvement in the tenure process. “There are a number of consultation requirements that the Crown undertakes and requirements for the companies to participate in those consultations, which our members are more than happy to do.”

How this new requirement would be implemented remains to be seen. BCSFA said it has written to the provincial government offering to consult further on this and other recommendations.

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