Last Thursday, the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw boarded a salmon farm, for the second time in three days, to begin the process of removing the fish farm industry from their waters.
Boats from the communities of Gwayasdums (Gilford Village), U’kwa’nalis (Kingcome Village) and Alert Bay converged on the undisclosed salmon farm.
According to a press release issued by biologist Alexandra Morton, one third of the BC salmon farming industry is using Musgamagw Dzawada’nuxw territory without their permission and despite their voiced opposition.
“The people who are benefitting from these farms are benefitting over the suffering of our people,” said Dzawada’enuxw hereditary leader Farron Soukochoff .
“I wouldn’t even call these fish, they don’t belong in our waters killing off our wild salmon,” said Dzawada’enuxw hereditary leader Joe Willie.
“We have heard the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that honouring the rights of First Nations is a ‘sacred obligation’ to the Liberal Government of Canada,” said Hereditary leader and Chief Councillor Willie Moon. “Our people have spoken. We want salmon farms out of our territory.”
Their demands to the federal government are: the removal of all farm salmon in Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory within three months; no more farm fish transferred into Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory; and access to all fish in the farms to take samples; and that the band offices be contacted prior to harvest so an observer can be present to inventory the wild fish in the pens.
On Aug. 15, three Dzawada’enuxw traditional leaders also boarded the Cermaq/Mitsubishi salmon farm in the Burdwood Islands and served an eviction notice to all salmon farms in their territory.
BC Salmon Farmers Association Executive Director Jeremy Dunn confirmed that this particular site is “really the only place on the coast where there isn’t an agreement in place with First Nations,” and that those sites have been there since the 1980s.
“Those are long-time sites,” Dunn said. “BC salmon farmers have a long, positive history of working with First Nations for over 20 years. We have 20 agreements with nations which cover 78 per cent of the Salmon raised in BC and that track record of positive relationships speaks for itself,” he said. “Not everyone is going to be in agreement, but our members are very open to dialogue with all nations on BC’s coast.”
The current eviction notices are “all part of that ongoing Sea Shepherd campaign,” said Dunn.
Established in 1984, the BC Salmon Farmers Association is a forum for communication and cooperation within the salmon farming sector, and the focal point for liaison between the sector and government.