Our View: Fish farm issues are a big deal

Whatever side of the fence you fall on, fish farms are an important issue that need to be discussed.

We’ve been talking about, thinking about, and writing about salmon a lot lately at the Gazette.

Some of our readers might be wondering why we have been devoting so much of our column inches and time to covering the ongoing salmon farm occupations and protests in our area.

Aren’t there other things happening as well, you might ask? In short, of course, but this is a pretty big deal.

This not only affects us on the North Island, but it is an issue that affects our entire county as it crosses both provincial and federal jurisdictions.

It’s extremely complex because, for everything that has been said about the salmon farming dispute, there are at least 10 things that have been left unsaid. There are economic, scientific, environmental, legal, and political components of this discussion that all could be spoken about at length.

It’s also a divisive issue, with many people choosing sides between supporting industry or the rights and title of the First Nations people who oppose it.

It’s no small industry either. Marine Harvest, the company who owns three of the fish farms that are being protested, is one of the region’s largest private employers, with over 550 employees residing on or around Vancouver Island.

And the BC Salmon Farmer’s Association reports that overall, farming and processing of 92,800 metric tonnes of salmon in 2016 resulted in over $1.5-billion towards the B.C. economy.

However, all of the First Nations who oppose salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago are clear and united in their message.

They want the salmon farms out of the water because they believe they pose a serious threat to wild salmon and other marine life and this fight is not just about wild salmon either, but about preserving an entire culture that has been based on wild salmon for thousands of years.

The BC government is taking these objections seriously because they say they are committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which Premier John Horgan referenced during his visit to Alert Bay, and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham has also referenced in regards to the provincial tenures granted to Marine Harvest.

So now, it’s fair to say we are even talking about an international issue.

The bottom line is whatever side of the fence you fall on, it’s an important issue and deserves attention.

We are curious to know how you feel about the opposition to net-pen salmon farms? If you feel there is something that hasn’t been said that should be said, or you have an opinion you would like to express, please send us your thoughts.

You can send a letter to the editor by emailing editor@northislandgazette.com.

– Hanna Petersen editorial

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