First Nations leaders hand eviction notice to B.C. fish farm
Setting out from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, members of at least six B.C. First Nations took to the sea Monday to deliver an eviction notice to a fish farm operated by Marine Harvest: one of Canada’s largest producers of farmed Atlantic salmon.
“This is our right and this is our territory and we need to protect it,” organizer and Kwakiutl First Nation elder James Wadhams told CTV News.
Like many environmental groups, the hereditary chiefs and elders aboard the boat believe that fish farms such as Marine Harvest’s spread disease and hurt wild salmon.
Their symbolic protest is the latest to rock B.C.’s fish farm industry.
Last year, there were demonstrations across the province and several First Nations groups occupied a handful of aquaculture sites.
There was also the release of a shocking video showing blood spewing out of an underwater pipe into the ocean from a farmed Atlantic salmon processing plant near Campbell River, B.C. That waste tested positive for piscine reovirus, or PRV, a virus commonly found in farmed salmon that scientists say can easily be spread to wild species.
After seeing that video, both the provincial and federal governments launched reviews.
“Obviously if there’s an appropriate enforcement action that will take place, it will take place,” federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters in November.
But despite the ongoing controversy, the industry maintains that nothing is amiss.
“There’s no direct evidence that salmon on farms are causing ill-health in wild salmon,” BC Salmon Farmers Association executive director Jeremy Dunn recently told CTV News.
For its part, Marine Harvest, which is headquartered in Bergen, Norway, says that it has agreements and positive relations with more than a dozen First Nations. And while there’s no sign that the seafood giant will move out of B.C. anytime soon, some of its leases expire in June.
With a report from CTV National News B.C. bureau chief Melanie Nagy