The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) Seafood West Summit was held September 27 and 28th, 2018, in Campbell River, B.C., including the 34th Annual General Meeting of the BCSFA - 2018 AGM.
The first morning featured a New Products Showcase related to the fish farm industry, with presenters like Aqua-Terra Consultants who discussed seafood processing recovery to BAP certification levels, another company discussed environmental innovations in net-washing, Pentair presented new technology for taking water quality measurements, and AKVA Group introduced FishTalk Feeding Systems to improve conversion rates and increase the growth rate of the fish.
Chief Chris Roberts gave an introduction from the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in whose territory the event was held. "I was reassured by talk at the Union of B.C, Municipalities about the fish farm industry's willingness to dialogue." Roberts says there is a dichotomy of beliefs, "Some of our people believe the impact of fish farms on wild salmon is significant."
He was in the room not simply to welcome BCSFA members into the traditonal territory but to state the industry and community should be prepared to move forward based on facts. "It's no secret there are challenges. We need to discuss these challenges in a meaningful way. The term reconciliation implies repairing relationships that aren't healthy."
Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams told the people at Thunderbird Hall, "These are critical and challenging times, as we saw with the UBCM meetings," held this past summer in Whistler, B.C., and where the cities of Victoria and Sooke introduced resolutions on the one hand calling for a move to closed containment fish farming (land-based), and on the other hand, shuttering the industry on the west coast.
In response, Campbell River put forth the following resolution at the UBCM:
Whereas fisheries are an important economic driver for the Province of British Columbia, particularly on Vancouver Island;
And whereas fisheries in BC is defined as inclusive of commercial, indigenous, recreation and aquaculture:
Therefore be it resolved that the Province ensure that all decisions with regards to the management of all fisheries, and protection of the natural environment, are made based on current data, technology, science and traditional knowledge.
The Campbell River resolution was endorsed by the Association of Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities
The City of Campbell River has become a centre of salmon farming excellence with companies local, national, and international locating operations in the mid-island community. "We are getting that message out there," says Adams.
John Paul Fraser has been Executive Director of the BCSFA since the summer of 2018. "We have 20 agreements with First Nations on the coast and more to come. Bigger is stronger. Our membership is now 58 and growing. We have new partnerships and saw participation at 70-plus events this year. Ten thousand pounds of salmon was donated to food-sharing organizations and more farm tours were held."
Fraser says the association's members are currently conducting numerous research projects and providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to various agencies and organizations on the coast.
"Headwaters Group is going forward on public engagement and Shawn Hall is working on public relations for the BCSFA. We are establishing the middle ground."
Vincent Erenst is leaving the post of BCSFA chair after a long tenure and the former Managing Director of Marine Harvest Canada will be succeeded by David Kiemele.
Salmon farmers on the B.C. coast have a vested interest in healthy oceans and BCSFA members are invested in sustaining wild salmon on the west coast, "We are all in the same ocean," said Fraser.
The following day featured speakers Dr. Dick Beamish, Marco Valicenti, Barton Seaver, and John Carlo-Felicella. More on their remarks to come.
John Paul Fraser
Mayor Andy Adams
Chief Chris Roberts