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Salmon Farmers Association reacts to fish farm protests

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C.- Since last year, fish farms have been under protest by First Nations, particularly in the Broughton Archipelago on Northern Vancouver Island.

First Nations leaders met with provincial officials on Tuesday in Vancouver, to discuss possible resolutions to the conflict between them and salmon farmers.

“As an association, we are in touch with our members on a regular basis. We represent 52 organizations involved in salmon aquaculture in B.C., including all of the largest producers,” said Jeremy Dunn, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmer Association.

The organization liaises with producers across the province, including Marine Harvest Canada, which has been one of the companies under fire from First Nations.

“Salmon farmers have a long history of positive relationships with First Nations and have been hopeful to develop one in the Broughton Archipelago as well,” he said.

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“We’re hopeful the government can govern a process that’s ongoing and develop clarity and a positive pathway forward that will provide business certainty, and a solid future for the women and men that work in salmon aquaculture.”

Dunn noted that the industry looks forward to participating in the process and contributing in a positive way, when it’s appropriate.

As far as any plans to move fish farms to other regions outside of First Nations lands, Dunn could not provide a yes or no answer.

“Our members have been looking to have discussions about operations with First Nations in that area for some time,” he said.

“We have very strong protocol agreements with other First Nations on the Coast. What’s occurring now is a government process between First Nations and British Columbia. We think that’s an important process.”

Dunn noted Marine Harvest has agreements in place with 15 of the 24 nations in the territories where it has aquaculture operations.

“In total, our members have 20 agreements with nations in British Columbia. That accounts for about three quarters of the annual production,” he said.

“Our members have had agreements going back 20 years or more with some nations and a long history of being able to develop them, through sometimes challenging processes and discussions.”

He added that the Salmon Farmers Association works with its members on a variety of files throughout the year, and advocates on behalf of members with all levels of government.

First Nations in Kwakwaka’wakw territories of the Mamalilikala, ‘Namgis and the four tribes of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw in the Broughton Archipelago have demanded Marine Harvest Canada cease operations in their territories over the past few months.

Marine Harvest received a court order in November that allowed for the removal of protesters at its Midsummer Island fish farm.

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