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Indigenous Groups in British Columbia Demand Urgent Meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau on Salmon Farming Issue

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Indigenous Groups In British Columbia Demand Urgent Meeting With Prime Minister Trudeau On Salmon Farming Issue

Indigenous groups in British Columbia are calling for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid ongoing consultations with Ottawa on the issue of open-net salmon farming in the Pacific Ocean.

The Minister of Fisheries, Diane Lebouthillier’s office, has expressed commitment to developing a plan by 2025.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is engaging in discussions with the provincial government, Indigenous communities, and industry stakeholders to establish a transition plan towards sustainable aquaculture, with the goal of minimizing interactions with wild Pacific salmon species and positioning the salmon farming sector as a leader in Canada.

However, consultations have dragged on beyond the expected deadline of June 2023, and the transition plan is yet to be finalized.

According to the Alliance of First Nations for the Protection of Wild Salmon (FNWSA), which represents over 120 First Nations across British Columbia, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is seemingly moving away from the Prime Minister’s commitment and aligning more with industry interests.

The FNWSA has raised concerns regarding the lack of consideration for Indigenous expectations and fears that the federal government is leaning towards stricter regulations and transparency for the industry without requiring it to exit the ocean.

Requesting an urgent meeting with Trudeau, the FNWSA also seeks to meet with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre to emphasize the critical importance of safeguarding wild Pacific salmon as a symbol of reconciliation in the country.

Responding to the request, the Prime Minister’s office referred the matter to the Fisheries Minister, affirming the government’s commitment to phasing out open-net salmon farming along British Columbia’s coasts by 2025.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Minister Lebouthillier, and her team continue to engage in constructive conversations with all involved stakeholders, including the British Columbia government and Indigenous communities, regarding the next steps in this significant issue.

As specified in the Department’s mandate letter, Minister Lebouthillier is tasked with developing a plan to end open-net salmon farming along British Columbia’s coasts and introducing Canada’s first Aquaculture Act by 2025.

When reached for comment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada had not responded to inquiries.

Sophie Chevance

Rachel Adams

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