Get fish farms out of the Discovery Islands

Stand with Homalco and Tla'amin : "Sister Nations"

Homalco and Tla’amin Nations are headed to federal court to secure the removal of salmon farms from their territories. They will be facing four salmon farm companies that are challenging Canada’s recent decision to phase out all open-net salmon farms in the Discovery Islands by June 2022.

By standing with Homalco and Tla’amin Nations, you can help all five species of Pacific salmon - and the critically endangered Fraser river sockeye run -  recover and thrive.

Stand with Sister Nations Homalco and Tla’amin to keep fish farms out of Discovery Islands.

Donate to protect wild salmon

 “As Xwe’malhkwu (Homalco) people we hold a deep responsibility to protect wild salmon. I have personally witnessed the decline of wild salmon since the introduction of open-pen fish farms in Homalco territory. Homalco has stood united with our neighbouring First Nations and allies in opposing these fish farms.”

Chief Darren Blaney, Homalco First Nation

Are you a Wild Samon Defender?

Nearing Extinction

On their way out to the ocean, young salmon smolts from the Fraser River must pass through the narrow channels around the Discovery Islands where they run the gauntlet of 19 fish farms. There they are exposed to sea lice and viruses that thrive in the crowded conditions within the farms. In 2020, 99% of the juvenile sockeye sampled in the Discovery Islands were infected with sea lice. One of the viruses, piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), is highly contagious and can cause a heart disease in wild fish. This is a major contributor to sockeye returns to the Fraser River being at an historic low.

Farming of Atlantic salmon was brought into First Nations’ territories without their consent. The presence of fish farms, and the resulting decline of wild salmon populations in their territories, has caused great disruption to the culture and traditional economy of Homalco and Tla’amin. There is simply not enough salmon to catch to even fill the Food, Social and Ceremonial allocation. Shellfish are also impacted: traditional clam gardens have been destroyed by waste from the fish farms.

The lack of traditional resources to harvest has limited the Nations’ ability to pass on traditional teachings. If salmon stocks and other resources are not restored before the current generation of elders passes away, these teachings may be lost forever.


Canada decides to act: at long last

After many years of studying the problem without  much action, in December 2020 Canada announced a decision to phase out 19 salmon farms in the Discovery Island region by June 2022. In the meantime, the decision prohibited the companies from restocking the farms with new fish. Homalco and Tla’amin welcomed the decision as a necessary accommodation to prevent the sterilization of their Aboriginal rights to fish. 

Fish Farm Industry Digs in its Heels

The four fish farm operators in the Discovery Channel promptly filed a Judicial Review of Canada’s decision, and obtained an injunction allowing the restocking of fish farms - despite the federal government’s ban.

The companies aimed their legal challenge at Canada, but Homalco and Tla’amin do not intend to sit on the sidelines while an issue vital to their survival is haggled over by government and industry lawyers. The two Nations have applied to be heard as “respondents” - an equivalent status to Canada’s in this legal challenge in which the future of wild salmon hangs in the balance. 

Indigenous Nations bring critical evidence

If successful, Homalco and Tla’amin will bring important evidence of the damages wrought by fish farming to their livelihoods, culture, and ecosystems. Indigenous Nations are uniquely positioned to present this evidence as, on its own, Canada may be unwilling to present evidence that could be used in future court challenges to fish farms in other jurisdictions, such as Clayoquot Sound. 


Fish Farms:
A Timeline
  • April 14, 2021


    Sister Nations appeal case management judge’s decision.

  • March 18, 2021


     Case management judge denies Sister Nations’ motion.

  • March 10, 2021


    Sister Nations file a motion to be added to the Judicial Review as parties.

  • Jan 18, 2021


    Mowi Canada, Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood and a numbered corporation apply for a judicial review of Minister Jordan’s decision. 

  • Dec 17, 2020


    Federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan announces that all 19 fish farms in the Discovery Islands would be phased out by June 30, 2022.

“Our water and lands are precious. Our foods, medicines and all that we needed came from the land and waters of our territory. This is why Tla’amin members continue to be good stewards. It is each member’s responsibility to care for our lands and waters.”

Hegus (Chief) John Hackett, Tla’amin Nation

The Homalco, or Xwemahlqwu, are a North Coast Salish Nation. They are traditionally known as the “People of the fast running waters,” named after the turbulent waters of their traditional territory around Thurlow, Sonora and Stuart Islands, Phillips Arm, and Bute Inlet.


Today, Homalco has a population of approximately 477, with the majority of members residing in the community of Campbell River. Homalco people hold a strong concept of territory, comprising the lands and waters where their winter and summer villages are located, and where they harvest food and material resources. The Homalco vision involves Ma?am 'tarri ?El-tans qaymixw ?i:na yiq8 tams gigi (“sustainably accessing our traditional foods and lands”). Homalco people bear a strong connection to their lands, air, water and resources. This connection is honoured by protecting these sacred resources for future generations.

The Homalco have unsurrendered Aboriginal title and rights. They are currently in a modern-day treaty process with Canada and British Columbia.

The Homalco are one of three “Sister Nations” (comprising also the Tla’amin and Klahoose). The Sister Nations share  the same ancestry, language and traditions.



Wild Salmon Defenders

In the 1980s, Canada courted Norwegian corporations to bring industrial-scale fish farms to B.C. At the time, First Nations leaders were regularly excluded from resource management decisions. Nations never signed an agreement with the companies, and began fighting for the companies’ removal not long after they arrived.

Indigenous Peoples have been resisting farmed fish since the impact of viruses and sea lice to the wild salmon runs that they depend upon for culture and livelihood became devastatingly clear. 

Even the federal government agrees: to save the last wild salmon of the Fraser River run, it has ordered fish farms in the Discovery Islands to close by June 2022. 


Farmed Fish Must Go

Overcrowded farms endanger the health of migrating young salmon as they swim past on their way to the open Pacific Ocean, where they feed and grow before returning to freshwater rivers, streams, and lakes to spawn at the end of their life cycle.

Research done by Alexandra Morton, salmon and orca researcher, has shown that sea lice infect the majority of ocean-bound juvenile salmon that pass closely by the crowded farms.

Despite this evidence, and a federal ban, fish farms are using the courts to push back. It's time to stand up and say, "enough". 


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The Case to Ban Fish Farms

In December 2020 the Federal Government issued a ban on fish farms in Homalco and Tla’amin territory, setting a deadline for June 2022 for the farms to shut down. 

To ensure the last fish farms are forever banned from the Discovery Islands, Homalco and Tla’amin Nations aim to go to court to bring abundant evidence of harms presented to wild salmon, communities, and ecosystems.