B.C. fish farm protest to continue amid court action

Protesters vow to continue the fight against B.C. fish farms

First Nations protesters at a salmon farm off the northern coast of Vancouver Island are vowing to stay, despite court action aimed at forcing them out.

Marine Harvest Canada, which runs the farm, has asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to remove protesters from its Midsummer Island farm, located about 50 kilometres east of Port Hardy in the Broughton Archipelago.

A hearing for the injunction is set for Tuesday morning.

Related: B.C. minister warned salmon farm not to restock

Molina Dawson, a protester with the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, said the group is concerned about what impact fish farms are having on wild salmon in the area.

“Our culture is very much intertwined and reliant upon having these salmon and the rest of our wildlife. If we lose the salmon, we lose a huge part of our culture,” she said.

Dawson and several others have been at the Midsummer Island farm for more than two months, and plan to stay until the company removes all of its fish from the territorial waters of local First Nations.

Spokesman Ian Roberts said the company has delayed its work at the farm in hopes of having discussions with the protesters.

“We were hoping for discussions with these First Nations people that have issues with our business, but to date they’ve granted no meeting whatsoever,” he said. “So we will have to continue to take care of our fish and our employees and hope in the future that dialogue starts so we can talk about long-term solutions.”

Dawson said she personally has not heard from anyone at Marine Harvest, but would be open to a meeting.

Related: No ‘official complaint’ about Abbotsford lab: DFO

The company resorted to court action due to concerns about the safety of both staff and protesters, and about the welfare of the fish, Roberts said.

Structures have been built on the facility’s narrow walkways, he said, making it difficult for employees to do their work.

“We’ve asked them to leave numerous times. Last week we demanded that they leave and given that they didn’t leave our workspace, we’ve had to officially make application for a court order,” he said.

But Dawson said it doesn’t make sense for the company to kick First Nations people off their traditional territory.

“We’ve done nothing wrong,” she said. “We’ve tried to make sure everyone who comes on the farm is respectful. We haven’t broken any laws. We’re here respectfully.”

The issue is also about Indigenous rights, Dawson added.

“We’ve never given consent for this industry to operate in our waters.”

Related: LETTER: First Nations defending their waters

Marine Harvest said in a statement that its current tenure licenses were granted in 2013 following five years of consultation with several First Nations with interests in the area. Those licenses are valid until June 2018.

It’s important to discuss with First Nations about who has rights to that area, Robert said.

“We think that’s a very important conversation that has to happen because businesses in British Columbia need clarity on the process,” he said. “We ask that the First Nations in this area be part of that process and voice their concerns around a table and not dangerously on our workspace.”

The government has not issued any licences for new fish farms since 2015 while a review of aquaculture policy and licensing is underway.

B.C.’s Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in statement on Sunday that she expects to receive a report on the review “soon.”

Popham said the province is committed to protecting B.C.’s wild salmon and that she will work with all parties involved to make sure the aquaculture sector is ”environmentally sustainable and respects First Nations’ rights while continuing to provide good jobs for British Columbians.”

“We believe negotiation is the best way to resolve issues and we look forward to continuing a respectful dialogue with all parties,” the statement says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Surrey man stabbed multiple times during suspected home invasion

The incident occurred in Fleetwood on Saturday night

Can Surrey’s Reece Willcox will his way to NHL?

23-year-old defender playing in a stacked Philadelphia Flyers organization

Seaquam Seahawks lose heartbreaker in football playoffs at B.C. Place

Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and South Delta Sun Devils were also in action

Surrey Knights are now two years without a win

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Surrey Knights last victory

VIDEO: Fort Langley marks anniversary of B.C.’s birth

On a rainy day in 1858, B.C. was made an official colony.

Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

Thousands were fired from the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation

Heavy rains, winds hit B.C.’s south coast

Localized flooding, gusts up to 70 km/hr expected for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Most Read