December 20, 2004 – MEDIA RELEASE
CAMPBELL RIVER – Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has discontinued its environmental review of a proposed salmon farm in Bute Inlet, saying that the proponent, Heritage Aquaculture, has withdrawn its application.
In 2001, the Bute Inlet Downie Range site was proposed as an alternate location for environmentally problematic salmon farms in Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound, but the application met strong opposition from key stakeholders including the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) First Nation, the Georgia Strait Alliance, the Stuart Island Community Association, the commercial and sports fishing sectors, the eco-tourism industry and the Comox Strathcona Regional District, which denied zoning for the proposed site in August of 2001.
“We consider this to be a very positive step. We’ve been working since 2001 to ensure that local concerns about salmon farms in Bute Inlet would be heard by decision-makers and believe that these concerns contributed to Heritage’s decision to withdraw,” said Eric Blueschke, Local Outreach Coordinator for the Georgia Strait Alliance. “We wish to continue working with community stakeholders towards wild salmon recovery in Bute Inlet,” Blueschke stated.
This past spring the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) First Nation and the Georgia Strait Alliance formed an official partnership to work collaboratively towards the restoration, protection and sustainability of Bute Inlet.
“Salmon farming as currently practiced is not consistent with the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) vision of Bute Inlet or the recommendations of the Johnstone-Bute Coastal Plan,” said Xwémalhkwu Chief Darren Blaney. “We are pleased that the proponent has withdrawn their application as we can now focus on other pressing issues in our traditional territory.”