B.C. First Nations say another occupation possible after fish farm restocking

Fish Farm horgans office 1

Protest outside of BC Premier John Horgan’s office in Victoria, BC, October 13, 2017.

by Laurie Hamelin, APTN National News, October 14, 2017

Just days after meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan and sending a clear message that fish farms are not wanted in the northern part of the province, community members occupying one farm are now say another occupation is possible after watching RCMP in black zodiacs escort a restocking ship travelling to a fish farm near Alert Bay, where the Horgan meeting took place.

“There were two boats on our tracking device, the ship, and the RCMP,” said Hereditary Chief Ernest Alfred.

Alfred said he watched the Viktoria Viking restock Marine Harvest’s Port Elizabeth Fish Farm. The farm, located in the Broughton Archipelago off the coast of northeast Vancouver Island, had previously been empty.

Photos taken by an anti-fish farm activist appears to show two black RCMP zodiacs.

Fish Farm Viktoria-Viking

The Viktoria Viking traveling to fish farm on the coast, October 2017.

Ian Roberts, a spokesperson for Marine Harvest, said they called in the Mounties to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Over the last few weeks there has been kind of an increase in aggression from those that our camping on our site towards our staff so we asked the RCMP to make sure both sides and both parties are kept safe while we continue our business,” said Roberts. “We certainly don’t want anyone to be arrested.

Fish Farms mla office

Protest outside of MLA’s office in Maple Ridge, BC, October 2017.

He said the company would prefer to engage in dialogue while continuing to do their business.

“We are very willing and wanting to discuss a long-term solution, but we just can’t immediately cease operations as we deal with a live animal that needs to enter the marine saltwater environment when the fish is ready,” said Roberts.

Roberts confirmed that Port Elizabeth’s Provincial license is up for renewal in June, their Federal license won’t expire until 2022. He says licenses aren’t that simple.

“We have been operating in the area for 30 years with all appropriate licences,” he said. “Sometimes those licences don’t line up, but we do expect if we are operating to the conditions and to the licences, that they are renewed.”

Fish Farm RCMP zodiac cops

Special maritime unit of the RCMP on Zodiac boats escorting the Viktoria Viking, October 2017.

Last Tuesday, Horgan met with 40 leaders, representing eight different Kwakwakā’wakw Nations from British Columbia in an unprecedented alliance against salmon farms.

The leaders presented Horgan with a demand to remove all open-net fish farms from their collective territories.

Horgan said he was only there to listen.

“Today I came to hear, to get mountains of material, and we need to work together in the days, the weeks, the months ahead, to protect the salmon for all time,” said Horgan.

When leaders pressed him on the issue of re-stocking, Horgan said there is a cut off date.

“If those leases are up in less than two years, they shouldn’t be able to re-stock,” Horgan said.

Horgan can only control provincial licences.

Alfred has been occupying Swanson Island Fish Farm, also owned by Marine Harvest, since August 25. He had been tracking the vessel all night.

In a Facebook video, he said Marine Harvest is completely disrespecting First Nations.

“Behind me is the Viktoria Viking illegally moving fish into Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory, our people have told Marine Harvest to stand down and they are not hearing us!”

“The Premier can still cancel this permit,” Alfred said. “These actions mean a third fish farm occupation is now a possibility.”



Posted on October 15, 2017, in Fisheries and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: