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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Broughton Archipelago Recommendations Q & A

So many questions are pouring in on Facebook, with lots of misconceptions about the historic agreement reached by three First Nations and the Government of British Columbia, that I thought I’d compile them here with answers from the text of the actual Steering Committee recommendations.

1.            There are 122 open netpen salmon farm sites in BC:  why does this agreement only deal with 17 of them?

The farms in question are located on the traditional territories of the ‘Namgis, Mamalillikula and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis Nations, located in the island and mainland regions roughly adjacent to Port McNeill. These three Nations demanded removal of the farms from their territories and members occupied several of the farms for the better part of a year before the provincial government agreed to establish talks. A government-to-government process was established, creating a Steering Committee to deal with just the farms in these Nations’ territories.

2.            How many farms are actually being shut down?

Between now and 2022, ten farms will be deactivated in the Broughton Archipelago.  A further seven will close in 2023, UNLESS agreement to keep them open is reached with the Nations involved and DFO has issued new operating licences. Below, the farms are listed by the year in which tenures will end; some allowance of time is given to decommission the site thereafter.

Cliff Bay
Wicklow Point
Port Elizabeth
Sir Edmund Bay
Arrow Passage
Upper Retreat

Larsen Island
Cecil Island
Potts Bay

Cypress Harbour
Glacier Falls

Humphrey Rock
Doctor Islets


Swanson Island

3.            They’re just moving the farms somewhere else, aren’t they?

No, although there are some changes to the maximum biomass of fish allowed at each site over the next four years. There may also be applications for increased biomass at other sites (outside the Broughton), where First Nations agree. The Broughton Agreement does not speak to this, as the First Nations at the table could not speak for Nations in other areas. Otherwise, a province-wide moratorium on new farm sites is still in place.

4.            Why didn’t they shut the farms down immediately?

The government-to-government negotiations took into consideration questions of law (the potential for the salmon farms to sue the government for loss of the farms) and of fairness to workers as well. The closure dates chosen allow for an orderly transition out of the area, with time to grow out the stocked farms and relocate workers.

5.            Will there be any wild salmon left in five years’ time?

Better a historian than a prophet…some fish stocks in the Broughton, such as the pink salmon, are at an all-time low abundance. No-one knows if they will rebound. However, the Broughton recommendations go a long way to giving them a fighting chance, by establishing a role for First Nations in setting management objectives, monitoring and enforcement of the terms of the “Replacement Tenures” that will be granted to the 17 farms during the transition. The objectives will become conditions of the leases granted by the Province and so at least in theory, the leases could be lost if the industry does not comply with them.