First Nations launch salmon textbook blending indigenous knowledge with western science

Editorial Staff

Comprehensive new text is designed to inform First Nations leadership for better decision-making in marine management and the sector’s transition.

The Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship, the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA), and the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences (BC CAHS) have jointly released a comprehensive 500-page review on salmon farming in British Columbia.

The publication, titled “Modern Salmon Farming in British Columbia: A Review,” brings together contributions from First Nations, scientists, and industry experts.

The review, commissioned to fill knowledge gaps among First Nations communities, combines Western scientific data and traditional Indigenous knowledge. According to Dallas Smith, spokesperson for the Coalition and member of the Tlowitsis Nation, the document is designed to inform First Nations leadership for better decision-making in marine management and the sector’s transition.

The BCSFA has been assembling the review over the past year, now made available online. Physical copies have been distributed to various First Nations across the province. The publication covers a range of topics, including fish health, environmental impact, and First Nations stewardship.

Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of the BCSFA, emphasized the importance of trust and transparency in the industry, particularly towards First Nations communities.”

“We are furthering our commitment to transparency of our operations as we continue to innovate to reduce our environmental impact. This scientific review document launched today reinforces the sector’s position as a responsible contributor to the economy, the environment, and the well-being of coastal communities,” said Kingzett.

BC CAHS, an ISO-accredited and indigenous-led lab, contributed its expertise in wild and farmed salmon. Dr. Ahmed Siah, Managing Director of BC CAHS, expressed their commitment to merging traditional knowledge with modern science.

“We aim to bridge traditional knowledge with modern science through collaboration and innovation, ensuring a sustainable future for all,” said Siah.

“We strongly feel this collaborative effort, Modern Salmon Farming in British ColumbiaA Review, aligns with many of our values, goals, practices, and priorities at CAHS and serves as an inspiring example of what happens when First Nations are given a leadership seat at the table of Western science, especially when it concerns their traditional territories. This is how CAHS is committed to our operations, now and into the future.”

The release of this review is timely, as Federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier is expected to announce the BC salmon farming licensing decision later this spring. This decision is part of a “responsible, realistic and achievable” Transition Plan for the sector by 2025.

Smith underscored the role of First Nations in stewarding coastal waters and exploring economic opportunities like salmon farming, particularly in the context of Canada’s Blue Economy and national food security concerns.

The Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship (the Coalition) represents several First Nations Rightsholders spanning from central/western Vancouver Island to BC’s Central Coast who united in March 2022 over their concern that their self-determination and rights were under threat by the Government of Canada in regards to the future of salmon farming in BC.


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