Fish farm operations in Phillips Arm
There are a number of issues with fish farming in the inlet of Phillips Arm. The licensee currently operating under federally and provincially issued licenses is MARINE HARVEST CANADA (MHC) - a subsidiary of the Norewegian fish farmer MARINE HARVEST.
MHC obtained its first approval to operate in Phillips Arm in 1998. This was a time when governments did not follow proper consultation protocols with First Nations and BC issued a 10-year permit to MHC without consultation with Kwiakah First Nation. When the permit expired in 2008, the provincial government was only partially in charge of permitting fish farm operations - some of the authority was transferred to the federal government as a result of the Alexandra Morton court case. The confusion on all levels of government led to the questionable decision by the BC government to let MHC operate on a month-by-month automatic renewal basis. Finally, in 2014, the BC Liberal government issued a 20-year license to MHC without any form of consultation with Kwiakah First Nation.
Had Kwiakah First Nation been consulted, the following concerns would have been raised by the leadership:
- What are the impacts of seafloor contamination as a result of fish waste collecting under the net pens?
- What is Marine Harvest Canada doing to better control the sea lice on the farmed salmon so that the wild salmon stocks that migrate through Phillips Arm are not harmed as has happened in other parts of BC and other countries?
What are the impacts of the increased use of pesticides to combat sea lice infestation of farmed fish on juvenile salmon, and shellfish and how do the chemicals used, i.e. medicated feed, spread through and alter the environment?
- What measures are governments and industry taking to monitor and prevent the infection of wild salmon with infectious diseases in the farmed fish?
- Why do governments allow for the operation of open and un-contained feedlots in BC coastal waters?
The Kwiakah First Nation has tried for almost 10 years to receive answers to these and many other questions so that they can be assured their territory is not being damaged by this industry. Their questions remain unanswered, which suggests to them that the wild fish and environment are at risk and so this small First Nation band is taking the necessary steps that will hold MHC and the regulatory authorities accountable to their demands.
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