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

New 84-unit seniors housing in Saanich constructed to Built Green standards

Mount Doug Manor an example of Built Green on a big scale

UPDATED: Bail conditions released for Esquimalt man facing multiple sexual assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

Tour de Victoria rolls through the region Saturday

Expect traffic delays across Greater Victoria on Aug. 18

Kim XO is Black Press Media’s fashionista

Starting Sept. 7, stylist Kim XO will host Fashion Fridays on the Life channel on Black Press Meida

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Saanich teen takes her karate skills onto the world stage

National champion Olivia Brodie will compete at the 2018 Junior Pan-American Karate Championships

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Most Read