Salmon signs hoped to help cultivate awareness

Salmon signs hoped to help cultivate awareness

South Surrey student sends ‘Stay Wild’ message to Alert Bay

A Southridge student is adding her voice, and handiwork, to a call to end ocean-based fish farms.

Amadea de Wit, in Grade 11 at the South Surrey school, said she sent 10 red-and-green laminated salmon signs – in the shape of the fish and bearing the words ‘Stay Wild’ – to a small store in Alert Bay this month, “knowing they will be posted on one of the two fish farms in the First Nations territory that is currently occupied by the FN people.”

De Wit told Peace Arch News by email that she made the signs in response to a call on Facebook by biologist Alexandra Morton, who has campaigned for years for an end to ocean-based aquaculture.

“As you know, a lot of research is going on right now in B.C. about the impact that fish farms are having on our wild salmon runs,” de Wit said.

“My hope is that one day soon these farms will all be on land and not in our oceans.”

De Wit said Morton “assured us that (the signs) will be put up on the occupied salmon farms just like the signs that have been in the background of many of her recently posted photos.”

Farmed salmon has been a controversial topic for several years, with opponents citing damage to wild stocks as among concerns, and proponents pointing to benefits including availability and price.

De Wit said GoPro footage she has seen of farmed salmon shows fish with tumours, open sores and more – cementing her resolve to keep it off of her own plate.

She described the issue of getting salmon farms out of the ocean as one that her family is passionate about, and said she wants to support the First Nation communities and Morton “who are sticking up for the wild salmon populations.”

She has also spread the word at school, through a “Ted Talk-style” speech last year, in which she spoke about the impact of fish farms on the environment.

”As you know, our orcas, humpbacks, eagles, bears and many other species eat our wild salmon. This is causing a lot of issues for all of these species as farmed salmon are infecting our wild salmon, which will eventually reduce their natural food source if we don’t do something about it now!” de Wit said.

“I recently read that many orcas have been miscarrying their babies due to malnutrition. We need our wild salmon!”

Last month, officials with a Washington state fish farm confirmed that thousands of Atlantic salmon were accidentally released into the waters between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands after a structural failure of net pens.

In a statement, Cooke Aquaculture officials blamed exceptionally high tides and currents that coincided with the solar eclipse.

At least three Atlantic salmon were caught in Aboriginal nets along the Fraser River on the weekend of Sept. 9; officials with the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Fisheries Society described the incidence as rare, and concerning.

“It worries us although we don’t know if the worry is with foundation. And whether it will result in harmful effects on migrating salmon, I don’t know,” Chief Ernie Crey, an FVAFS director, told Black Press.

“To us they are an unknown entity.”

De Wit said she hopes her efforts help spread the word.

“It’s important to stand up for what we believe is right,” she said.