Respect for First Nations recognized in new aquaculture certification - Mainstream Canada the first to meet the standard
Mainstream Canada is the first salmon farming company in Canada to be certified under a new third-party standard which ensures that sustainable management of aquaculture includes First Nations values and interests, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Mainstream Canada.
An independent audit in March determined that Mainstream Canada's practices at their Clayoquot Sound sites within the traditional territory of the Ahousaht First Nation meet the requirements of the Aboriginal Principles for Sustainable Aquaculture (APSA) standard, established by the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association (AAA).
"APSA is a First Nations-driven initiative that will ensure that aquaculture is carried out in a manner that respects First Nations culture, values and ensures protection of First Nations aquatic resources," said Richard Harry, President of the AAA. "It is a positive approach to all issues: social, environmental and economic. This is the first step forward to a nationally recognized aboriginal inclusive certification program."
Recognizing that sustainable aquaculture development had the potential to play a major role in the diversification and strengthening of the local and regional economies of First Nations the AAA was established in 2003. The Association provides guidance an
d advice with respect to sustainable aquaculture development to First Nations and works with government and industry on issues related to the management and regulation of aquaculture that impact First Nations.
The APSA standard requires First Nations and the applicant to work together and develop a local sustainability plan to ensure the aquaculture operations in their area are conducted in accordance with the principles in this standard and reflect the specific values and interest of the local First Nation.
The Ahousaht First Nation has a population of approximately 2,000 people and is located on Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound. Mainstream Canada is the second largest aquaculture business in B.C. and part of the Cermaq group of companies. The company operates 27 sea sites, three hatcheries and one processing plant. Together, with support from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Aquaculture and Innovation and Market Access Program, they participated in the pilot project testing this third-party accreditation process.
Elements of the APSA standard include:
Transparency and First Nations Inclusiveness
The auditor received many positive comments from members of the Ahousaht First Nation, which has a protocol agreement with Mainstream Canada guiding the principles for working together and establishing a sustainable and mutually beneficial salmon farming operation.
"We have confidence and pride in the work we are doing with Mainstream," said Wally Samuel, chair of the Ahousaht Fish Farm Committee. "With this certification we can see that the high standards that we expect from Mainstream are being met and that the company is serious about their sustainable practices and commitments to First Nation communities."
"Our attitude towards salmon farming is one of continual improvement and we are grateful to be able to work with Ahousaht and the AAA to achieve this high APSA standard, said Laurie Jensen, Mainstream Canada's Communications and Corporate Sustainability Manager. We look forward to using this certification to work with Ahousaht to make the partnership even better and we recognize that it will be an important tool in the development of new partnerships with First Nations communities."