First Nations and environmental groups are ramping up pressure on the provincial government to reject renewal applications for salmon farm tenures.
An 11,000-signature petition was delivered last week to Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office during a demonstration led by members of Kingcome Inlet’s Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, who live on the mainland, east of Port Hardy.
Molina Dawson, 16, who represented Kingcome Village families at the rally, said she believes government and fish farming industries are endangering wild fish.
“I know, without a doubt, that the cost to our wild salmon and everything that relies on them isn’t worth it,” she said.
Salmon farmers say the farms pose no risks to wild salmon.
But groups such as the Wilderness Committee are asking the province to limit salmon farming.
“The proponents of this industry and, unfortunately, decision-makers at the federal level seem perfectly comfortable jeopardizing B.C.’s wild salmon,” said Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee Vancouver Island campaigner. “This is a chance for our provincial government to do the right thing for this coast, to step up for B.C.’s most important wild species.”
Although salmon farms are managed by the federal government, the provincial government is responsible for renewing licences for sea-floor tenures.
The Cohen Commission into the decline of Fraser River sockeye concluded that many factors are responsible for shrinking sockeye runs. However, commissioner Bruce Cohen said salmon farm development in the Discovery Islands should be frozen and existing farms should be shut down if they pose any risk to wild stocks.
Dave Crebo, Agriculture Ministry spokesman, said in an email that of 27 aquaculture tenures in the Discovery Islands, seven are currently under adjudication for tenure replacement. One amendment is under review.
“These seven sites are currently under a month-to-month tenancy,” he said.
In the Broughton Archipelago, another sensitive area, the ministry is working on 20 replacement tenure applications. Until decisions are made, those farms will be under month-to-month tenancy arrangements, Crebo said.
“There are no new applications in the Broughton area.”