Grieg Seafood BC has signed a net-washing contract with local business-owner Richard Harry, Homalco First Nation member, for his company, R Harry Fishing Ltd., to service Grieg’s five salmon farms in Nootka Sound.
The contract is part of Grieg’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation, including the creation of Indigenous-owned business opportunities for its salmon farming operations, according to an Aug. 18 company press release. The agreement is the second net-washing agreement between Grieg and an Indigenous-led company this year.
The contract is a progression for Harry’s family-owned business, per the release. He is currently refitting his commercial fishing vessel into a net-washing workboat that will also house workers on board.
“For myself and my family, we have always worked on the water,” he said, in the release. “We’ve always been a commercial fishing family and the children pretty much grew up on our boats, so it’s been a lifetime of experience. The water is what I know.”
Harry is very entrepreneurial and progressive in his thinking, said Rocky Boschman, Managing Director of Grieg Seafood BC.
“He’s a leader in his community, and he cares a lot about his family and the community at large,” said Boschman. “At the end of the day, he is an innovative thinker who is looking to create local economic opportunity and support the responsible farming of a low-carbon protein. We’re really happy that he’s involved with us formally.”
“Richard has just been great to work with,” said O.D. Hansen, Grieg’s Director of Reconciliation. “He has made it easier for both parties. Grieg wants to find opportunities not only for our First Nations partners, but First Nations businesses to be able to succeed, and this is an example of that – breaking down what would normally be a big contract granted to one business into regions for different Nations or Indigenous businesses to be involved.”
Harry has learned about the salmon farming industry through previous work with the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association (AAA). With the recent announcement on BC’s commercial fishing closures from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, he said transitioning to working in finfish aquaculture is ideal timing for his family.
“[Fishing] is something I’ve enjoyed all my life and it gets taken away, but we have to move forward,” he said, “And this partnership that we’ve worked so hard on over the past year is how we do that. I’ve got to say that the integrity of Grieg has really shown up here. If I felt otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
“In the past 20 years I’ve advocated for aquaculture and believed in it even when others spoke down to it. We see lots of change with the industry and First Nations going forward, and I’ve been a part of that for a long time. This kind of partnership that we’re establishing today can be a model for that. I’m very proud to be a participant of this arrangement, my family looks forward to it, and I’m very thankful for it.”
R Harry Fishing Ltd. will begin net washing Grieg’s Nootka farms in October 2021, once the the vessel is refitted.