Monday July 18, 2011

Community News

Pulling Together For Wild Salmon

Community Meeting at Skwah on Tuesday

Submitted by Eddie Gardiner


irst Nations and non-First Nations alike are joining forces at the Skwah First Nation old band office to discuss the current findings of the Cohen Commission federal inquiry into the collapse of the 2009 Fraser River Sockeye and prepare for the aquaculture hearings starting in late August, which includes a rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery on August 30th. First Nations from up and down the Fraser River and people all over BC are joining to raise their voices; Salmon Feedlots must get out of our ocean.

”It’s unbelievable to read records of the Cohen Commission on how the Aquaculture industry deflects attention from what they are doing to Fraser River Sockeye by blaming climate change and First Nations Fisheries for the collapse of wild salmon stocks. This is ridiculous!” said Skwah First Nation Elder, Eddie Gardner.

“We’ve been supporting the removal of fish farms from the ocean for many years because they do harm wild salmon and pollute the ocean,” said Lester Mussel, Fishing Portfolio holder for Skwah First Nation. “Now we see this industry aggressively pursuing expansion that will only mean speeding up the extinction of our wild salmon. This has to stop!” said Chief Robert Combes.

In October 2010, in the cold and pounding rain, about 500 people on a march from Vanier Park to the Cohen Commission in Vancouver joined 60 paddlers who made a five-day journey from Hope, BC. This powerful pulling together of the Wild Salmon People was highly influential in getting the Cohen Commission to require 10 years of disease data from 120 fish farms be presented to the hearings. More recently, however, lawyers for the Aquaculture industry have succeeded in shrouding information, critical to what the public needs to know, in “privacy” to protect their shareholders.

Salmon Are Sacred co-founder Anissa Reed will be joining with wild salmon warriors at Skwah to bring attention to the 100,000 voices strong campaign, a follow up to the biggest rally in the history of BC last May when over 5,000 people stood at the Victoria Legislature demanding Salmon Feedlots “Get Out. " Alexandra Morton has worked tirelessly to protect our wild salmon. Some people think she has stepped back at the moment but the truth is she is working harder as a Cohen participant to uncover documents inside a confidential mountain of files and emails known as Ringtail. As Alexandra says herself, 'I am most unfortunately bound by strict confidentiality.... but I will say that it is wrong that I know things about your salmon, that you have not been told."

Peer reviewed scientific research around the world is clear: Fish farms harm/kill wild salmon and other marine life as they breed excessive amounts of sea lice; dump toxic waste detrimental to the marine ecosystem, and are challenged in controlling diseases like the ISA virus and that could bring salmon to its extinction.

Skwah First Nations strongly supports these needed urgent measures:

  • Immediate viral testing of every salmon farm

  • Remove open-net fish farms from the ocean

  • Fish farmers need to be accountable, and pay for removal of their toxic sludge from ocean floor

  • Support fish farming jobs with Canadian owned land-based fish farms

  • Support First Nations Strategic Alliance on Aquaculture

  • "Wild salmon have sustained aboriginal people along the coast and along the Fraser River and its tributaries since time immemorial. Salmon are an essential part of our diet and is an integral part of our culture and spiritual connection to the natural world,” said Councilor Dean Williams. Among all the threats to Fraser River salmon, fish farms present a real threat to the survival of wild salmon. A total collapse of wild salmon will speed up with the continuation and expansion of the fish farm industry. It is imperative that the “universal precautionary principle” be applied by removing open-net fish farms from the oceans, or we face “farmageddon.” We choose this name for fish farms as they exist on the oceans and they can cause an ecological disaster of massive proportions with the demise of wild salmon. Without wild salmon, the bears, eagles, seals, wolves and humans would suffer immensely.

    As the salmon go, so do we!

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