Alliance recommends solutions to salmon farming problems

(Vancouver) A new alliance between B.C. First Nations, coastal community individuals, and Environmental organizations has been formed to address the dangers posed by salmon aquaculture operations.

On August 26, 1997 the Environmental Assessment Office delivered the results of its Review on Salmon Aquaculture, along with its recommendations to the Ministers.

In response to that report, the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Tribal Council hosted a meeting in Campbell River on Friday, September 12, 1997. At this meeting, people from up and down the coast, and the Interior joined in common cause to express their resolve on how to deal with this issue. This alliance wants the moratorium of salmon farming maintained until safe, closed loop containment systems replace the existing 80 open net cage systems and interim measures Agreements or Treaties regarding fisheries are in place for B.C.’s coastal First Nations.

Karen Wristen, a lawyer with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund and a member of the Salmon Aquaculture Review Committee, who has thoroughly analyzed the Environmental Assessment Office 1800 page report has confirmed that “the lack of science is so apparent that it supports maintaining the moratorium until real solutions are found.”

Chief Robert Joseph, who chaired the meeting, said “We have no confidence that the regulatory changes suggested in the Aquaculture Review recommendations will address the devastating effect these fish farms have on our territory and our people.”

Jim Fulton, the Executive Director of the David Suzuki Foundation said, “Implementing these recommendations would force BC taxpayers to pay millions for a new salmon farming bureaucracy. Instead, we call on Ottawa and Victoria to regulate for safety but with a user-pay policy. We need to shift technology from open to closed pen design which would eliminate the risk of disease transfer from farmed fish to dwindling wild stocks, treat sewage and therefore prevent antibiotic-rich feces from poisoning the ocean, and minimize the use of dangerous drugs.”

“This new alliance of First Nations, Environmental organizations and concerned individuals provides a clear direction to governments on this troublesome issue,” concluded Chief Joseph.

A steering committee was formed to continue the work of Friday’s meeting.