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

Bear spotted in Qualicum Beach

Full-grown bear spotted in complex at Berwick and Rupert roads

Canadians on epic journey arrive in Nanoose

Snaw-Naw-As First Nation welcomes participants of Canada C3 voyage

Kwalikum Secondary student back from year in Netherlands

Don’t pass up opportunity to travel with Qualicum Beach Rotary’s help, says Taylor Hunter

Resident slam loud dynamite blasting at Cedar Ridge Estate development

Sleigh feels insulted by Mayor Lefebrve who failed to understand their suffering

RDN creates new service to fund INfilm

Regional district to enter three year agreement with film commision for annual funding of $50,000

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Qualicum Beach residents discuss long-term vision for community wellness

Three more meetings on topic scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

Motorcyclist takes fast action to get burning bike off the road along the old Island Highway

Open house features both sides of the issues on Bowser sewage project

New association opposing marine outfall use event to also express their concerns

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

Parksville draft park plan goes before public

People invited to open house Oct. 28 at Parksville Community and Conference Centre

Most Read