Pamela Anderson, the Ladysmith-born model, actor and activist, is expected to be on-board the RV Martin Sheen for an anti-fish farm protest near Campbell River. Anderson is the international chair of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Image by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Pamela Anderson to join Sea Shepherd during protest at fish farm near Campbell River

RV Martin Sheen to hold demonstration on Saturday at Cermaq-owned farm

Activists opposing ocean-based fish farms are planning another “protest flotilla” in the Okisollo Channel, north of Quadra Island, this time with the support of a Hollywood star.

Pamela Anderson, the Ladysmith-born model, actor and activist, is expected to be on-board the RV Martin Sheen on Saturday, according to Clancy Walker, a media and campaign coordinator for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Anderson, Sea Shepherd’s international chair, will be joined by Laichwiltach hereditary chief George Quocksister Jr. and Paul Manly, Green Party MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, according to Sea Shepherd.

A Facebook event for the protest, dubbed the Wild Salmon Flotilla, described the event as a “peaceful floating demonstration.” The protest on Saturday is part of a campaign dubbed Virus Hunter, which is now in its fourth year, Walker said.

Pamela Anderson attended a recent B.C. Green Party town hall meeting in Nanaimo with party leader Andrew Weaver and Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly. Photo by Greg Sakani/Black Press

The activist group, perhaps best known for its militant tactics against whaling vessels, is planning to stage the protest at Venture Point, a fish farm owned by Cermaq Canada.

In 2016, Cermaq said Venture Point was certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council salmon standard, which it described as the industry’s highest certification for responsibly-farmed seafood.

Cermaq said that Venture Point is an active fish farm that was stocked in late June and early July.

READ MORE: Cermaq salmon farms certified ASC gold medal standard

READ MORE: Mowi suspends fish farm construction near Campbell River amid protests

VIDEO: Mowi launches $30-million vessel to treat farmed salmon for sea lice

Sea Shepherd chose the Venture Point facility for the protest because of its close proximity to Campbell River, according to Walker. He said the group considers all open-net fish farms harmful.

“Whether they’re organic certified or have any sustainability certification, we believe they’re all just as bad as each other, as far as their ecological footprint,” he said.

The crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s RV Martin Sheen at the Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River on Tuesday. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Walker said the Martin Sheen is helping scientists gather samples from waters surrounding aquaculture facilities to test for viruses, while also trying out a submersible drone that will survey the sea floor and surrounding ecosystem.

Major concerns of the group include sea lice outbreaks at fish farm sites. High sea lice levels in the Clayoquot Sound led to the temporary shut-down of at least one farm in 2018. Activists say the sea lice problem continues unabated.

“There’s a huge abundance of sea lice in the water this year, particularly around Clayoquot Sound,” Walker said.

Industry-reported data from 2011 to 2018 on the website of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) indicates that sea lice abundance at Venture Point didn’t exceed the regulatory threshold in recent years during wild salmon outmigration periods.

Those periods, from March to June, are considered important because wild juvenile salmon are vulnerable to the pest as they swim out to sea.

Sea lice levels at Venture Point were also within regulatory limits during four DFO audits between 2011 and 2018.

A map from the website of Cermaq Canada shows the location of the Venture Point fish farm.

Cermaq officials weren’t immediately available for an interview about the protest. But fish farm companies have often said they’re committed to sustainable practices, while also citing the industry’s economic impacts, notably in terms of jobs.

According to a 2017 study commissioned by the BC Salmon Farmers Association, which represents the fish farm industry, more than 2,900 people were employed directly in salmon farming by 2016. Another 3,600 workers were employed through the industry’s economic spinoffs, according to the study.

Walker said the goal of the protest isn’t to take away jobs but to prevent a collapse of wild salmon and the larger ecosystem, including critically endangered southern resident orcas.

“All we’re looking for is to create sustainability within the ecosystem,” he said.

The flag of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society flies above the RV Martin Sheen at the Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River, July 23, 2019. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirrorr

Walker said he believes the Martin Sheen is under surveillance, noting that a certain unmarked vessel has been observed at several locations.

“There’s been similar personnel on each farm that we visit that seem to either have already arrived by the time we get there, or arrive shortly after we get into the area,” he said. “I would say confidently that we are under surveillance.”

He said the RV Martin Sheen will sail to the Broughton Archipelago after its stop in Campbell River.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds of wax figures find new life in Saanich man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Oak Bay wins Vancouver Island basketball championship

Third-place NDSS will get to challenge second place Claremont for a berth in provincials

Peninsula Eagles will host Midget T2 provincial championships

Provincial championships will take place at Panorama Recreation March 15 to 19

UPDATED: Hit and run results in damaged fire hydrant, flooding on Richmond Road

Registered owner issued $360 ticket, responsible for repair costs

Saanich’s senior race car driver not slowing down

Bill Okell kicks off 2020 season at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in California on Feb. 21

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Most Read