On August 23, a rally was held in Vancouver at DFO headquarters with a press conference to raise more pubic awareness on violations by fish farms on the Pacific coast, speficially operating fish farms in the territory of Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw people without their consent, and the alarming numbers of illegal by-catch of herring in large numbers. This industry needs to be fined for these violations and the federal and provincial governments need to have a face-to-face meeting with Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and Namgis Nations to go over the violations and collaborate to legislate fish farms out of their territories.
Yes, you don’t have to be a scientist to know that this farmed Atlantic salmon is sick, deformed and suffering. It is unethical for this to continue on the BC coast. So far, we have not heard from Green Party Andrew Weaver, nor have we heard from Premier Horgan on this freaky, disgusting aquaculture industry. Minister LeBlanc and Prime Minister Trudeau continue to ignore, or simply don’t seem to care that all of this happening. Where are the champions of wild salmon and their habitat at the federal and provincial levels? Yes, after 31 some years, it has come to this – resorting to direct, but peaceful action to evict fish farms illegally operating in the unceded territory of Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw people without their consent! Enough! Let’s help them cleanse their territory of open net pen fish farms.
River Indigenous people are also concerned over the collapse of wild salmon runs and are abundantly aware of the adverse impact open net pen fish farms have on Fraser river sockeye salmon in particular. Video footage from the RV Martin Sheen taken by Hereditary Chief George Quocksister Jr in fish farms on the coast is added evidence that this industry has been given free reign to violate Indigenous rights and title to valuable fisheries resources, and they must be removed from migration routes of wild salmon. Instead of fighting Dr. Alexandra Morton in court so he can give permission to fish farmers to put Atlantic farmed salmon in Pacific waters without testing them for pathogens like the highly contagious piscene reovirus, Minister Dominic LeBlanc should be meeting with Musgamagw Dzawad’enuxw to have fish farms removed from their territory. Let’s unite to support Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw assert their Indigenous rights and title to govern their lands, waters, and fisheries resources upon which they depended since time immemorial. They are being good stewards of their resources in their unceded territory and that includes evicting open net pen fish farms that are harming wild salmon, herring and clam beds.
The Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance staunchly supports the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw people in their evicting open net pen fish farms from their territory, and we will even make contributions to help with any legal costs they may need to exercise their Indigenous rights and title to govern their unceded territory and resources. We honour the Namgis First Nation that opposes does not give their consent to fish farms on the coast as well, and are showing leadership by providing an alterntive to open net pen aquaculture by establishing their land-based Atlantic fish farm operation called Kuterra.
Eddie Gardner, WSDA President