April 17, 2018 | Today in Vancouver, a diverse group of B.C. community, Indigenous, and business leaders announced the launch of the “Declaration in Defence of Wild Salmon”. The declaration seeks to draw together the growing number of voices calling on the B.C. government to take action on salmon farming by refusing to renew fish farm leases when they expire in June, 2018.
The declaration describes B.C. wild salmon stocks as a “public treasure”, and points to disease and pollution from open-net fish farms as a reversible threat to their survival. The declaration’s proponents are calling for its immediate implementation in the Broughton Archipelago, where leases are expiring in the traditional territories of First Nations who have resisted salmon farming for decades.
“Our wild salmon are resilient, but they are being hammered by diseases and pollution from fish farms,” says Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance. “If the Provincial and Federal governments are going to walk their talk about reconciliation with First Nations and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they need to remove fish farms from the waters where consent from First Nations is absent.”
“The evidence of risk to wild salmon is sufficient that the precautionary principle should be invoked,” says Dr. Larry Dill, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University. “Governments should mandate and support the aquaculture industry’s move from open net pens to land-based closed containment production systems.”
The declaration has been launched by 26 prominent individuals. These include former NHL hockey player Willie Mitchell, who now operates a marina and resort in Tofino. Mitchell was born in Port McNeill and says, “I’ve watched this industry grow and watched the impacts it’s had on our marine environment. Moving this industry to land will save jobs while keeping B.C.—well, B.C.!”
The group is calling on more British Columbians from all walks of life to sign the declaration today. Time is running out to show the Provincial government the strength of support for transitioning open net-pen salmon farms to land. The declaration is found at www.safesalmon.ca, a website hosted by Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Georgia Strait Alliance and Living Oceans Society.