Marine Harvest Canada and three Central Island First Nations have concluded three years of discussions intended to guide the operations of salmon aquaculture in their territories.
On Friday, the company announced in Campbell River the signing of a capacity-building agreement that requires environmentally sustainable practices, and provides economic and investment opportunities for the K’omoks, We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum bands.
“We are very pleased to start a positive relationship between Marine Harvest Canada and our people,” said Chief Ralph Dick of the Wei Wai Kai Nation in a news release.
“It’s important that we have input into how companies operate within our territory since they are already here,” added Chief Robert Pollard of the Wei Wai Kum Nation. “And the best way to have our say is to work collaboratively. This agreement provides that opportunity.”
Representatives for the K’ómoks Band declined comment about the announcement.
The signing increases the total number of agreements between Marine Harvest and coastal First Nations to 10, the company said.
“Marine Harvest recognizes the importance of working with local First Nation bands,” managing director Vincent Erenst said. “We look forward to working with our partners to ensure that our business promotes sustainability for our oceans, our economy and local communities.”
Collectively, the three bands and the company represent a significant portion of B.C.’s aquaculture production, both in terms of shellfish and salmon, the company added.
Marine Harvest Canada — B.C.’s largest producer of fresh farm-raised salmon — employs 550 staff. We Wai Kai, We Wai Kum and K’omoks First Nations represent about 2,000 members and are in the shellfish business.