Chief Darren Blaney of Homalco First Nation said farmed salmon is destroying the habitat of wild stocks, comparing it to residential schools in terms of cultural destruction. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River protesters want fish farms stopped

Demonstrators say farmed salmon are killing wild stocks

About 50 people turned out in downtown Campbell River for a protest against fish farms, saying the practice is destroying wild salmon – and the Indigenous culture that’s bound up with the ancient fishery.

The demonstration initially took place outside the office of North Island MLA Claire Trevena before activists marched across the street to the Georgia Quay building, home to the salmon farming company Cermaq Canada.

The protesters entered the building and held a short rally in the second-floor hallway that opens onto the company’s offices, knocking on the windows and shouting anti-aquaculture chants before quietly dispersing.

Activists are hoping to pressure the provincial government into denying new permits for 20 fish farms when they expire on June 20. The protest in Campbell River was among five that were taking place at the offices of various MLAs, including the premier’s office, according to activists.

Ernest Alfred, a hereditary chief from Alert Bay, said he’d been leading an occupation of a site on Swanson Island adjacent to a Cermaq fish farm since August 24.

He had a message for the fish farm operators operating in the region.

“They’re not welcome,” he said.

Chief Darren Blaney of Homalco First Nation told the Mirror that wild salmon is inseparable from culture for Indigenous people in the region.

“It’s one of the foundations of our cultures on the coast,” he said.

He cited research indicating that farmed salmon is destroying the habitat of wild stocks, comparing it to residential schools in terms of cultural destruction.

Blaney said that scientific research has shown that farmed salmon spreads diseases to wild fish, and that farmed fish undermine the wild stocks by eating the smolt.

The B.C. government would be in violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People if it renewed the fish farm licenses, said Blaney.

“If they’re fearless and they’re honest, they can get them out of the waters,” he said, adding that Alaska has banned ocean fish farms, while Washington State has begun phasing out Atlantic salmon farms, leaving B.C. as the hold-out in the Pacific Northwest.

Asked about First Nations leaders who have supported fish farming in their territories – including Tlowitsis Chief John Smith – Blaney said they should consider what he described as the far-field impacts of the industry.

“Your sovereignty has to respect our sovereignty,” he said. “It’s not even a worthwhile economy if it’s destroying the culture.”

He also suggested that fish could be farmed in land-based facilities to stop the spread of what he described as deadly pathogens in the fish populations.

 

Chief Darren Blaney of Homalco First Nation said farmed salmon is destroying the habitat of wild stocks, comparing it to residential schools in terms of cultural destruction. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Protesters held a brief rally in the second-floor hallway of Cermaq Canada, a salmon farming company, knocking on windows and shouting anti-aquaculture chants. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Protesters held a brief rally in the second-floor hallway of Cermaq Canada, a salmon farming company, knocking on windows and shouting anti-aquaculture chants. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Islander having heart attack denied ferry ride

Quadra Island man recovering after being airlifted to hospital in Victoria

World Juniors fast approaching as selection camp begins in Colwood

BC Hockey and provincial dignitaries launched the championship on Tuesday at The Q Centre

Travel tips for passing through Victoria’s main airport this holiday season

It may be small in size but Victoria International Airport was voted one of the top 10 busiest in Canada

Supportive housing in Nanaimo isn’t a victory for homeless people, say advocates

Alliance Against Displacement criticizes how shutdown of Discontent City was handled

T.W. Paterson column: Bill Barlee: Man with the golden touch

“…he built a life’s work that allowed him to walk the boardwalks of history and the halls of power.”

Miniature Christmas Land is back in Saanich

Local family continues to open intense Christmas-themed basement to public

Stop ‘renovictions,’ B.C. housing task force says

MLAs call for end to strata bans on renting vacant suites

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

Coast Hotel issues lockout notice, emergency mediation coming

Lockout would affect Coast Hotels in Nanaimo, Victoria and Prince George

B.C. Liberals call for outside audit of Speaker’s office, NDP refuses

Auditor General implicated in Darryl Plecas accusations of impropriety

School bus seatbelt petition gains ground on Vancouver Island

Port Alberni school trustee has pushed for seatbelts for 40 years

Humboldt Broncos, cannabis, Fortnite: Here are Canadians’ top Google searches for 2018

When celebrities died or Canada Post went on strike, Canada turned to Google

B.C. member of parliament takes feds to task on opioid crisis

‘Too many families are tragically losing parents, siblings and children to the opioid crisis.’

Most Read