Email letters to editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish online and in print.

Email letters to editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish online and in print.

LETTER: Fish farms boost North Island economy

“… our local jobs, local taxation revenue, and the like will disappear!”

Dear editor,

People are concerned with the salmon stock shortage as they have always been throughout the many years when the salmon failed to show. Even in the old days there were times when the runs failed.

But nowadays it is even more tragic as a result of mainly over – fishing of the stocks by both our commercial and “commercial “ recreational fisheries.

Oh yes, we former loggers accept our share of the blame and hydroelectric dams seem to never get mentioned anymore, though they destroyed the Columbia and a number of other smaller fisheries. As well, only Disneyites could deny that un-harvested record numbers of marine mammals are a big contributor to the lack of fish. Even eco – icon Billy Proctor is allowing that one.

But the real shame is how the media lets the commercial fishermen get away with their duplicity of pointing fingers at everyone but themselves when they are in fact the biggest culprit in the whole travesty? With the exception of the small trollers in my opinion, these are the fellows who should take the bulk of the blame. But finger- pointing won’t bring the fish back.

Sadly, those same fisher – folk among many others who have been screaming about DFO’s supposed mismanagement of the farm fishery by not shutting it down based on a claim that latent PRV disease has destroyed the stocks (this when there would surely be wash ups and sick catches were it true), are the same folk that used to lambaste DFO for daring to try to cut back their catch year in and year out in the days that they did indeed ultimately destroy the fish stocks through over – fishing.

While I’ve only worked as a shore worker in both wild and farmed plants it was clear to us what the massive fleet was doing here. Same happened on the east coast – unsustainable harvest run amok! Even whale watchers from the city could see hundreds of boats forming an almost impenetrable gauntlet for less and less fish down Johnstone Strait every year until by the early – mid 90’s I found myself driving cab back in Port Hardy with fishermen who were trying to return their fish boat groceries!

Sadly, Rain Coast Chronicles among others documents such things as 2 gill – netters using a net to pull salmon from an estuary back into the less confined space to illegally harvest them. The many abuses are well remembered by us coastal people while the urbanites “swallow the Kool Aid” that overfishing is not the primary reason stocks have collapsed. The same Sointulans who seemingly now rightly revere the salmon still glorify the seiner drum they invented that went on to destroy the fishery once the boats became just too big for the salmon fishery to sustain them all!

But now we have claims that sea lice are almost a creation of the farm fish industry which only arrived in the 80’s long after the bulk of the commercial harvests destruction was done. The fact that these aquaculture companies are growing their own fish as opposed to destroying the dwindling public’s stock is ignored with overblown claims of sea lice being almost fully responsible for the state of wild salmon.

In fact, long before farm fish, honest fisherman like the late Dave Syder who belonged to the UFAWU as I did, told me of the time he came across an entire herring school flopping around on a beach totally covered in lice long before salmon farms. They have been around forever. The industry is rightly required to manage lice and most recently the use of water jets and hydrogen peroxide in “well boats” has been a large success.

At the modern farm fish processing plant in Port Hardy where I worked the results were immediately noticed. Hydrogen Peroxide by the way is the stuff you or a First Aider puts on your abrasions and is just water with an extra oxygen molecule sometimes called “French Water” after it’s Franco inventor of the 19th century.

Yes, monitor for sea lice but don’t make excessive claims about them destroying the stocks as the fact is that farms have been removed from estuaries where they can affect juvenile salmon. Ongoing removal of farms from high traffic areas has also happened. But such claims as “just put them on land” must be countered with such things as the unaffodability of such.

The publicly – funded experiment by the Namgis band was unsuccessful commercially and the fact that the north island industry is only here in a country with high transport costs and relatively high wage rates, because of access to the waters should be clearly stated.

In fact, if the industry is removed from our waters and forced on land for these myriad unscientific reasons, then it will be housed in the south nearer Vancouver due to massive savings in transport costs, and our local jobs, local taxation revenue, and the like will disappear!

Bruce Lloyd,

Port Alice

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