Failure to renew farming licenses could devastate First Nation economies Trudeau warned

Editorial Staff

The overall total economic benefit of the salmon farming industry to First Nation communities is estimated to be $120 million.

Isaiah Robinson, Deputy Chief Councillor of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation and General Manager of the Kitasoo Development Corporation, has issued an urgent appeal to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seeking support for the renewal of salmon farming licenses.

Failure to renew the current salmon farming licenses, Robinson warned, could result in significant economic losses for the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation, including approximately $2.82 million in economic output, $2.8 million in employment income, and 60 jobs.

In a letter dated May 22, 2024, Robinson highlighted the critical role salmon farming plays in the employment and economic stability of the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation. The letter underscores the potential adverse effects of transitioning away from open-net salmon farms by 2025, as proposed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).\

Robinson emphasized that the Kitasoo Model has been instrumental in building a robust and sustainable economy for the past three decades. However, he expressed concern over the lack of clear direction from the federal government.

“At times, this dialogue with the DFO and the Government of Canada has been frustrating and one-sided,” wrote Robinson. “Today, we are no closer to understanding the federal government’s direction in finalizing a “responsible transition plan.”

Robinson called on the government to respect the Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation’s Rights and Title authority and to renew all salmon farming licenses in British Columbia for a minimum of six years to ensure the community’s continued prosperity and sustainability.

Economic impact of salmon farming on First Nation communities

Salmon farming significantly contributes to the economic well-being of First Nation communities in British Columbia. The sector generates approximately $29.2 million in economic activity, $16.7 million in GDP, and supports 247 jobs with $12.8 million in wages annually within these communities. Additionally, it creates further economic benefits outside First Nation communities, amounting to $54.2 million in economic activity, $31 million in GDP, and $23.8 million in wages for 460 workers, some of whom are First Nations members living outside their communities.

Key figures include:

  • Formal Agreements: 17 First Nations have formal agreements with the salmon farming sector.
  • Indigenous Employment: 276 employees identify as Indigenous.
  • Indigenous Businesses: 21 contracts with Indigenous-owned businesses and suppliers.
  • Payroll: $11.5 million in payroll for Indigenous employees.
  • Spending on Indigenous Businesses: $24 million total spend.
  • Financial Support: $12.1 million through protocol/benefit agreements, with an additional $2.4 million in annual support outside these agreements.

In total, the direct economic benefit to First Nations from salmon farming is estimated at $50 million. The combined economic impact both within and outside First Nation communities includes 707 full-time equivalent jobs, $36.6 million in wages, $83.3 million in additional economic activity, and $47.8 million in GDP. The overall total economic benefit for First Nations is estimated to be $120 million.


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