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 figures show City of Victoria spent $30,000 to remove Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

High school completion up from 71 to 86.8 per cent over 10 years

Pacific Centre Family Services Association a winning design in Colwood

Victoria Real Estate Board winner a welcoming sight

Victoria curling foursome looks to defend provincial title

2019 BC Junior Curling Championships held in Vernon from Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019

Top tourism executives in B.C. earn almost $1 million

Destination B.C. CEO Marsha Walden received total compensation of $296,487 in 2017-18

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

Most Read