As people from the Broughton Archipelago, where the crimes occurred, Alert Bay, Sointula, and Port Hardy looked on Marine Harvest pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal possession of wild fish. Marine Harvest made the unprecedented move to avert the 4 - day trial that had been scheduled.
At issue were juvenile pink salmon, almost certainly from Glendale River that ended up falling out of a huge bucket moving Atlantic salmon broodstock into a truck and 3cm herring that ended up in the farm salmon dump in Beaver Cove.
While flawed in many ways, this case made history twice over. It was the first time a private prosecution has ever been taken over and run by the Department of Justice to its conclusion and it is the first time the Norwegian salmon farming industry has been charged for taking wild fish. I would like to thank Todd Gerhart of the Department of Justice for taking this all the way.
With no obvious way out, Marine Harvest, represented by the BC Salmon Farmer lawyer in the Cohen Inquiry Alan Blair, pleaded guilty to a portion of the charge... the part about releasing the herring in the wrong place - that the fish were picked up at Arrow Pass and released at Midsummer. We heard the little herring all went back into the sea and a few of the larger herring were accidentally tossed into the pen with the Atlantic salmon.
This is not the way I heard it from Marine Harvest back in October 2009. Standing on a dock in Beaver Cove, Robert Mountain and I heard a Marine Harvest employee tell us that the smaller herring fell through a sorting grid and were put in totes and dumped in the farm salmon dump in Beaver Cove. We heard this when, tipped by a fish farmer disgusted by the situation contacted me, we went looking for them in the dump. We were met by steaming piles of freshly turned bark and rotten fish.
At 3cm the herring were almost certainly from Kingcome Inlet - a herring stock still in trouble even though it has not been fished for 20 years.
However..... now that Marine Harvest has received a warning - for having the pinks in June 2009, and now being found guilty for having the herring in October 2009, if they are caught with illegal wild fish again the offence rises. DFO asks that we "observe, record, report" so please do so if you see wild fish dying in industrial salmon farming operations. No one in BC is allowed to take fish without a licence. It is not against the law to respect our wild fish.
Marine Harvest's fine is $5,000 which is big compared to similar crimes. Unfortunately it was decided most of the money would go to a south coast hatchery, not to the Broughton to protect the wild fish being impacted by this crime...
Chief Bob "O'wadi" Chamberlin of one of the Broughton Tribes had this to say today:
Marine Harvest convicted and fined for "incidental catch" of Wild Salmon smolts & Herring. DFO "missed" this in their monitoring of this Industry. I am not a statitician... But I believe it highly improbable, if not impossible, that this was the 1st & only time incidental catch occurred. Which points to monitoring gaps within the regulations, license conditions and operational policies.
Sea Lice impacts on Wild Salmon, Disease impacts on Wild Salmon, Incidental catch of Wild Salmon smolts, Herring "tonnage" as incidental catch..... Low Wild Salmon & Herring stock numbers! We need to establish our own Monitoring and Wild species protection measures.
In all seriousness, Whomever isn't for us...is against us. Take stock of those who particpate as FN's in this industry in "our territory." I fail to see how this is respectful of us as Musgamagw-Tsawataineuk peoples choices for "our territory"
Strong words for a peaceful leader.
Meanwhile, in Vancouver Cermaq, largely owned by the Norwegian government, continues to try to sue, individual, Don Staniford who has traveled throughout the world to bring the secrets of this industry to light. Salmon and Goliath: The Case of Don Staniford
"This trial is not about salmon farming practices."
"it's NOT ABOUT KILLING BIRDS & SEALS"...
Cermaq's lawyer: "Mr Staniford is turning this case into a Commission of Inquiry into Norwegian owned salmon farming worldwide."
I beg to differ with Cermaq this is all about salmon farming practices, about killing BC fish and wildlife, about the enormous weight of this worldwide industry bearing down on individuals and communities. In Broughton we were told this industry would be good for us. Well it is not. We have 27 Norwegian fish feedlots and our school is closed, there are 9 people left. The perverse thing is, this industry still can't make a go of it. Yesterday, an Intrafish article says Marine Harvest is "downsizing" laying off 60 people in BC, closing 10 farms temporarily because there is too much farm salmon on the market. Marine Harvest hopes the situation improves in two years.
What are we doing? Risking everything for an industry so greedy and out of control it is hurting itself now.
Thank you to the people in this picture we stood together and witnessed history - may it be the turning of this tide back to the people and this amazing place we live in.