On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the Province of BC is holding an open-house at the Airport Inn in Port Hardy for public comment on the first two new salmon farms in what the industry hopes will be a large expansion.
This is one of the final steps the Province of BC needs to perform to issue two new salmon farms Licences of Occupation, basically a rental agreement to occupy the space over the seafloor at these two sites. The federal government licences the farms, the Province is the landlord.
The Tlatlasikwala First Nation has about 70 members and they see salmon farming as the way they want to return to their traditional territory at Hope Island.
I am certain they have no wish to harm wild salmon, but the reality is inescapable. As we know from my legal challenge, salmon farms in British Columbia are issued a licence from the federal government of Canada to transfer diseased fish in marine net pen sites. What kind of future does that offer? These farms will be in prime wild salmon habitat and so stand to infect millions of wild salmon.
This is a tragic situation because, while the Tlatlasikwala are trying to secure a future, it has to be recognized they are making a decision that will affect First Nations to the south and to the north. As wild salmon press into the narrow Goletas Channel, their gills will come in contact with pathogens from these farms. As these salmon continue to the south they will enter rivers throughout Vancouver Island, the mainland and deep into the Fraser River. These fish will arrive on spawning grounds protected by other First Nations and if the diseases are harmful to Pacific salmon the damage will be done.
Wild salmon thread us together, any decision made along their path affects everyone who waits for them, is nourished by them, makes a living from them and depends on them for ceremony.
There is a facebook page where people are gathering to respectfully register how we feel about wild salmon being exposed to more salmon farms. If this coast does not stand together, we will certainly fall together. It is very difficult to speak against these applications, but I am adopted and named and I have been asked to continue my work wherever it takes me. Atlantic salmon farms are dangerous to wild salmon, I know this from years of my own research and contact with people fighting this industry around the world. I know this to be true - Gwayum'dzi