The September 7, 2017 Solidarity Rally to Get Fish Farms Out of the Broughton Archipelago took place outside of the Vancouver Converntion Center where the BC Cabiniet met with First Nations leaders. It was a great success in raising the public awareness in the ugly truth of how fish farms are doing serious harm to wild salmon. There is now a groundswell of support in BC with First Nations along the river, environmentalists, scientists and British Columbians from all backgrounds who are supporting Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and Namgis people’s eviction of fish farms from their unneeded territory.
Fish farms are in violation of federal regulations on illegal by-catch, and of Indigenous rights and title to salmon, herring, and clams upon which they depended for thousands of years. DFO Minister Dominic LeBlanc needs to stop fighting Dr. Alexandra Morton in court and ensure farmed salmon are not put in open net pens before they are tested for highly contagious pathogens like the piscene reovirus. The disease vectors, sea lice, are out of control and increase the risk of farmed Atlantic salmon passing on deadly diseases to wild species, including wild salmon and herring that swim in the same waters as the fish farms operations. The risks are too high for dwindling wild salmon stocks and the endangered herring. We implore the federal government to collaborate with the province to remove fish farms from the migration routes of wild salmon, beginning with the ones in the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory. This Indigenous nation has never given their consent to anyone to have open net pen fish farms get estabished in their territory. After 30 years of mounting evidence that fish farms do harm to their fisheries and are causing cumulative degradation of the marine environment, patience has run out. That is why it has come to them having to occupy fish farms, and they are determined to continue to occupy fish farms until they are finally out of their territory. The time for action is now!
The NDP BC government has the power and jurisdiction to close down fish farms by not renewing any fish farm leases of occupation, beginning with those in Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory. Removal of fish farms must not be dependent on federal funding to the ocean aquaculture industry to move onto land in containment. No more studies are needed. The evidence is clear, that open net pen fish farms are unsafe in marine waters as they pose the risk to bring about the unthinkable – extinction of wild salmon. This is preventable with removal of fish farms from migration routes of wild salmon.
At the federal level, Minister LeBlanc must accept the reality of fish farm violatons and their potential to cause irreversible harm to wild species, and collaborate with Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and the province to remove the fish farms. At the very least, Minister LeBlanc needs to meet with Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Nation, Namgis Nation, River First Nations and Minister of BC Agriculture Lana Popham to address this issue that cannot be ignored or brushed aside as if it will just go away. It won’t. Not until the fish farms are out of the Pacific coast!
Eddie Gardner, President
Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance
Skwah First Nation member