Marine Har­vest vs. fish farm pro­test­ers

Metro Canada (Vancouver) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Chad hipolito/the Cana­dian press

Kwak­waka’wakw peo­ple and sup­port­ers stand against fish farms in their tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries dur­ing a demon­stra­tion on nov. 2.

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