Sointula greets the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society with salmon signs.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society visits North Island

A large crowd holding up salmon signs greeted the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society at the dock in Sointula on Aug. 8.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s (SSCS) “Operation Virus Hunt”, targeting salmon farms on the B.C. coast, is drawing attention to concerns that diseases from farmed Atlantic Salmon are harming wild salmon stocks.

According to the SSCS’s Facebook page which is tracking their journey across the coast, on Monday, Aug. 8 the SSCS’s ship, the Martin Sheen (named after the famous actor/activist from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Terrence Malick’s Badlands), headed into Sointula, Malcom Island and spent the night. When the ship docked, it was greeted by a crowd of people holding fish signs.

Alexandra Morton and the crew reportedly received a very warm welcome from their supporters.

Morton then gave a speech along with Vancouver Island native and crew member Katj Walther, both focusing on the SSCS’s perspective on protecting the oceans.

The Martin Sheen departed early the next morning and continued east to further investigate open pen Atlantic Salmon fish farms.

They were joined onboard by Ernest Alfred Kwakwabalas of the ‘Namgis Nation and Melissa Willie of the Dzawada’enuxw Nation, witnessing first hand the impact the farmed Atlantic salmon are having on wild Pacific salmon.

The crew used an ROV camera to scan the sea floor around some of the pens. The images appeared to show large build ups of fish feces and fish skin.

According to the SSCS, the build up of feces has been shown to create large dead zones around these farms. Mussel samples for biopsy were also taken from the waters surrounding the farm.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9 the Martin Sheen was welcomed into Gwayasdums (Gilford Island) and invited for a feast hosted by the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Nation.

Established in 1977, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization.

Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas.