Today in Vancouver, a diverse group of B.C. community, Indigenous, and business leaders announced the launch of the “Declaration in Defence of Wild Salmon”. The declaration seeks to draw together the growing number of voices calling on the B.C. government to take action on salmon farming by refusing to renew fish farm leases when they expire in June, 2018.
The declaration describes B.C. wild salmon stocks as a “public treasure”, and points to disease and pollution from open-net fish farms as a reversible threat to their survival. The declaration’s proponents are calling for its immediate implementation in the Broughton Archipelago, where leases are expiring in the traditional territories of First Nations who have resisted salmon farming for decades.
“Our wild salmon are resilient, but they are being hammered by diseases and pollution from fish farms,” says Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance. “If the Provincial and Federal governments are going to walk their talk about reconciliation with First Nations and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they need to remove fish farms from the waters where consent from First Nations is absent.”
“The evidence of risk to wild salmon is sufficient that the precautionary principle should be invoked,” says Dr. Larry Dill, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University. “Governments should mandate and support the aquaculture industry’s move from open net pens to land-based closed containment production systems.”
The declaration has been launched by 26 prominent individuals. These include former NHL hockey player Willie Mitchell, who now operates a marina and resort in Tofino. Mitchell was born in Port McNeill and says, “I’ve watched this industry grow and watched the impacts it’s had on our marine environment. Moving this industry to land will save jobs while keeping B.C.—well, B.C.!”
The group is calling on more British Columbians from all walks of life to sign the declaration today. Time is running out to show the Provincial government the strength of support for transitioning open net-pen salmon farms to land. The declaration is found at www.safesalmon.ca, a website hosted by Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Georgia Strait Alliance and Living Oceans Society.
Chief Robert Chamberlin
Dr. Larry Dill, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University
Aaron Hill, Watershed Watch
Christianne Wilhelmson, Georgia Strait Alliance
Karen Wristen, Living Oceans
Our wild salmon are a cornerstone of British Columbia’s natural wealth. They have nourished our communities, economy, and cultures for thousands of years. A growing body of scientific evidence shows open-net salmon farms are spreading parasites and diseases to BC’s wild salmon, contributing to the collapse of wild salmon and the jobs that depend on them.
Since Washington State passed legislation last month banning salmon farming in State waters, B.C. is now the only jurisdiction on the west coast of North America that allows the controversial practice. This past weekend, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, representing dozens of municipalities on the BC coast, passed two resolutions calling for the removal of open net-pen salmon farms from BC waters.
Increasing numbers of British Columbians are speaking up, demanding action to remove salmon farms from the migration routes of wild salmon and from the territorial waters of First Nations who have not agreed to host them.
“Here in British Columbia, the vast majority of First Nations are very clear in their opposition to the operation of open net-cage fish farms.”
— Chief Robert Chamberlin, Chair, First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, and Elected Chief Councillor, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation
“I take a dim view of a mostly foreign owned industry disadvantaging local business economically. And that is what I feel fish farming in BC does to the wild fishing industry that used to be much stronger in this province.”
— Councillor Rob Southcott, City of Powell River
“BC’s recreational fishing community is calling on Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau to get salmon farms out of our waters and away from BC’s wild salmon. No more excuses. Let’s see some action.”
— Rodney Clapton, President, BC Federation of Drift Fishers
“Wild salmon are the backbone to this coast and it’s who we are as First Nations people, it’s our duty to step up and protect what our ancestors fought to keep for us for the future generations.”
— Tłalita’las, Karissa Glendale, Namgis First Nation
“Growing up in the epicenter of open ocean salmon farms, in the Broughton Archipelago, I’ve watched the industry grow and the impacts it’s made to our marine ecosystems. Advances in technology have proven new technologies on land can not only produce a sustainable fish protein for the masses, but also do it with a fraction of the environmental impacts. Change is coming; we’ve seen it to the south and all around the world as new closed containment systems pop up, even where this industry originated. Are we going to be leaders or followers in a sector which will be one of the fastest growing industries on the planet? Moving to this technology will save jobs within the industry and create a wealth of more jobs for British Columbians while keeping what makes BC, well BC for all of us and the next generation.”
— Willie Mitchell, President/Partner, Tofino Resort & Marina
“2017 was the worst wild salmon year I have seen in BC in the 40 plus years I have lived here. The four major problems are: freshwater habitat restoration, DFO, fish farms and climate change. We need to do major work to bring back wild salmon, delivered through the PSF. We need to be precautionary, recognize that BC aboriginals and citizens don’t like fish farms, that our neighbour jurisdictions now all ban in-ocean fish farms and take many actions on behalf of our wild salmon, the iconic species of our water and land.”
— DC “Dennis” Reid, writer
“I think we all need to consider the large and small ways we can protect wild salmon. They are integral to this coast and its people.”
— Ogwilaogwa Molina Dawson, Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation
“The integrity of a product is the foundation on which a chef will build is reputation.”
— Chef Robert Clark, The Fish Counter, Vancouver
“I believe the future of salmon farming is land-based. That will allow for jobs in the wild salmon economy to flourish and provide better jobs on land as well.”
— Mayor Shirley Ackland, Port McNeill