Protesters ordered off Midsummer Island fish farm
by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, Nov 14, 2017
First Nations protesters have been ordered to vacate their camp on a fish farm near Midsummer Island for 30 days while they prepare for a court date on Marine Harvest’s application for an injunction that would see them permanently removed from the site.
Protesters from the Musgamagw and Namgis First Nations have been occupying a shelter attached to the fish farm, southeast of Port McNeill, since early September, demanding that Marine Harvest shut down operations in their traditional territories.
At the direction of the Supreme Court of B.C., the protesters now have three days to remove their structures from the farm.
“This (adjournment) gives our hereditary and elected leadership more time to get legal action and negotiations organized to remove these farms from our waters legally and permanently,” said Musgamagw protester Molina Dawson.
The local First Nations have asked the B.C. government not to renew leases on farm sites in the Broughton Archipelago when they expire next June.
“We would have preferred to stay on Midsummer,” she said. “Our concern now is that Marine Harvest will use this time to restock the farms.”
Marine Harvest has harvested salmon from the farm in recent weeks, but has delayed restocking because of safety concerns for the protesters.
“We will review the biological schedule of our fish as we raise a living, growing animal,” said Marine Harvest Canada’s managing director Vincent Erenst. “Until meaningful discussions are taking place to find long-term solutions, we will concentrate on continuing to take care of our fish and our employees.”
Erenst urged senior levels of government to find a solution to First Nations concerns about their rights and title.
“This important government to government discussion needs to occur so our business and many other businesses in the province can be given clarity about this process,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, the government’s lead minister on the fish-farm file, has indicated a willingness to hear First Nations concerns.
“We are looking forward to making that consultation process government to government and we are looking for a starting point,” Popham told Postmedia News after she and Premier John Horgan visited First Nations leaders near Alert Bay last month.
“At that meeting we promised to continue negotiations while we work forward,” she said.
Popham also sent a letter to Marine Harvest stating that the provincial government retains the right to end fish-farm tenures.
“We have also made a commitment to implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission and that could affect farms in the Broughton Archipelago,” she said.
Marine Harvest employs about 600 people in B.C. and has working relationships with 15 First Nations, including seven First Nations-owned businesses.
Posted on November 14, 2017, in Fisheries and tagged fish farms, Kwakwaka'wakw, Marine Harvest, Midsummer Island, Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw, Namgis, salmon, wild salmon. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.