FACEBOOK/ Occupy Swanson Signs at the occupation of Swanson Island fish farm

First Nations occupy Marine Harvest fish farm

“This is our home and we are not moving until we’re satisfied.”

A group of First Nations has peacefully occupied a Marine Harvest salmon farm on Swanson Island, which is located 17 km east of Alert Bay.

On Aug. 25, Hereditary Chief Ernest Alexander Alfred, along with a group of First Nations, occupied the farm. He stated the fish farm is illegally parked in ‘Namgis and Maya’xala Awinakola territory.

“My family and I are committed to staying here until B.C. cancels the licenses of occupation in our territories,” said Alfred in an exclusive statement to the Gazette. “Canada (DFO) must stop this industry from putting infected or diseased Atlantic salmon in our waters. Marine Harvest must halt operations and take these fish out today,” added Alfred.

The Sea Shepard Conservation Society, which is an international activist organization, is also supporting the occupation as they have a vessel standing by the Swanson farm.

“We were surprised at this unscheduled visit and allowed them to observe our operations as long as they are respectful of our staff and don’t harm our fish,” said Ian Roberts, director of public affairs for Marine Harvest.

Roberts said, “we have contacted the elected chief as they requested the meeting, and as of now, we haven’t heard back from them.”

RELATED: 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon – company says escaped due to eclipse: now caught

The occupation comes days after footage of unhealthy looking farmed salmon along the east coast of Vancouver Island was released.

The footage was gathered by Hereditary chief George Quocksister Jr. from the Laich-Kwil-Tach Nation and distributed by Alexandra Morton, an independent biologist, and marine activist.

“Any population, animal or human, there are some poor performers – it’s rare in our business and we are able to remove them before they go to the processing plant. The population of our fish are very healthy at the farm and are checked very regularly in their life cycle,” said Roberts.

He also stated farmed salmon are not a risk to wild salmon. “There is no evidence that suggests our fish are negatively affecting wild fish – in fact, by raising farmed salmon, you are taking pressure off wild stocks,” said Roberts.

Last April, Ernest Alfred and other Hereditary Chiefs invited all political candidates to the ‘Namgis Big House in Alert Bay to state their position on removing salmon farms to protect wild fish.

Both the Green Party and the NDP candidates previously stated they would work to remove salmon farms from the territories of First Nations who do not want salmon farms operating in their waters.

“The Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw are also working closely with us. We are family, and we support one another. Every chief, far and wide, that I’ve spoken to, is supportive and they give us their blessings,” said Alfred.

The Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw have opposed fish farms in their territory for nearly 30 years.

“We are not only doing this for our people and our future, but we stand strong on this farm at Swanson Island for the entire ecosystem that depends on our salmon,” said Alfred, continuing “It is our aboriginal right to be here. This is our home and we are not moving until we’re satisfied.”

Roberts, however, asserted Marine Harvest “has a license to operate our farm,” adding “we will meet with the elected chief to discuss their requests, but we will remind them that this farm is legally licensed to operate.”

 

Just Posted

RCMP: No timeline for update on fatal hit-and-run in Parksville

Complexity of case a factor in length of the investigation

Parksville wants consultant to examine feasibility of rec centre

Strong demand from residents for a multi-sport facility

Developers withdraw rezoning application for huge Parksville waterfront plan

IAG to create new draft after processing public feedback

Parksville youngsters design problem-solving robot

Lego robotics team gearing up for gold in Victoria competition

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized, BC SPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read