Premier John Horgan says industry, government and Indigenous nations on northern Vancouver Island are collaborating on a four-year program to transition away from marine-based salmon farms.
Horgan says the health of British Columbia's wild salmon stocks depends on the joint work being done in the Broughton Archipelago to improve environmental conditions and move away from open-net farms.
Three area First Nations, two aquaculture companies and the government reached an agreement earlier this year to establish Indigenous oversight of salmon farms in their traditional territories as they transition away from the open-net away pens.
Horgan told a conference on Thursday at the B.C. legislature that five farms in the area have already been decommissioned, five more will be out of service by 2022 and seven more could close by 2024.
Namgis First Nation Chief Don Svanvik says the decommissioning program is a monumental step to protect wild salmon and recognize the interests, values and jurisdictional rights of Indigenous peoples.
David Kiemele of Cermaq Canada, which has 28 salmon farms around Vancouver Island, says negotiations ahead could hit rough patches but success is important for wild salmon and the coastal economy.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2019.