With the recent ruling allowing Marine Harvest to restock their fish farms by the courts and the failed injunction by First Nations, this should be a wake up call for First Nations. Sit down with Marine Harvest, but not with just anybody, but with a First Nation representative employed by Marine Harvest to facilitate the processes. A person of First Nation ancestry to better manage that relationship with Indigenous groups.
As noted in previous editorials, Marine Harvest does provide benefits to First Nation groups whose territory they operate in through Impact Benefits Agreements (IBA), my last count there are 24 IBA’s with 15 First Nation groups along the BC Coast. These IBA’s are worth thousands of dollars to these groups on an annual basis. That in itself is a good sign of being a good corporate citizen operating in the traditional territories of these First Nations.
The federal and provincial governments talk of reconciliation with First Nations, I’d say it’s about time, a long time in coming around by both governments to openly talk of reconciliation with First Nations. Taking Marine Harvest to court and applying for an injunction is not the answer, that is just a small remedy piece of the puzzle. The government’s both federal through DFO and their provincial counter parts are the ones who ultimately approve the fish farms and both are informed to accommodate the local First Nations whose traditional territory they operate in.
I recently read the Cohen report and was astonished to read through volumes 1,2 and 3 that the wild salmon was on a decline well before the first fish farms ever was constructed. As well as the other contributors of the depletion of the wild salmon stocks. Certainly a judge commissioned to do a report with the help of qualified scientists can be wrong, the fishing industry is on a down slide, has been for quite some time, well before the first fish farm arrived.
In conclusion, Marine Harvest does need a Manager of Indigenous Partnerships and time to go beyond the current IBA’s, which I call receiving trinkets, yes trinkets. It’s time for these First Nations to move up to the next level of pen monitoring, pen management, and pen ownership. This kind of strategy will go well beyond the traditional “trinkets” they currently receive. Through this kind of strategy, it will certainly get Marine Harvest in a true partnership with First Nations to provide increased employment, increased management of the pens and increase their participation overall in the multi billion dollar industry.
This kind of strategy can and should increase their share of the industry to start receiving “millions” of dollars in revenue instead of the traditional thousands of dollars which I call trinkets.
We are all concerned of sea lice, there are currently strategies and methods to clean the fish of these sea lice and these methods proven to work, First Nations can easily finance these methods and start participating in the industry.
There’s nothing more pleasing to see a total First Nation crew on deck, a First Nation manager on site, and the pen owned by the First Nation which is then leased back to Marine Harvest for creating increased employment, management and wealth for the participating First Nations. So instead of just making crumbs, First Nations are in a position to make half of the pie and form a true partnership with Marine Harvest and for that matter, all other industries operating in their territory.
* The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the North Island Gazette. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us to contribute to the discussion below. But please remember to keep it clean!