Feature Story                                                                                   Wednesday July 20, 2011


Pulling Together For Wild Salmon

Rally organizers plan to encircle the Cohen Commission building August 30 to have their voices heard

Craig Hill/Voice photos/Drum song with permission of Williams family drummers


Eddie Gardiner (C) Anissa Reed and her daughter, Elly Edwards, Ron "Smokey" Moore, the Williams family drummers and Chehalis Cheif Robert Coombes and other members of Skwah on Tuesday.


he Pulling Together For Wild Salmon meeting Tuesday evening at Skwah Reserve consisted of a small group of people who are the heartbeat the movement to rid the West Coast of Salmon Farms.


They're in a race to save what's left of sockeye fishery in the Fraser River before its too late and the same thing happens in BC, that throttled the Scotland and Norway fisheries, where its been proven that wild salmon have vanished because of open net feedlots. So on Tuesday, the solemn and determined group began to strategize their plans for a rally at the Cohen Commission in downtown Vancouver August 30.


Ideas were bandied about including a partial Fraser River canoe trip and a march through downtown where they plan to encircle the Commission offices with drummers and singers so that Judge Cohen, among others, could hear their voices uniting in solidarity.


Eddie Gardiner is stirring the people and Native communities up and down  the Fraser River. Over the next three weeks he'll be taking them a threefold missive.

"The first message is that fish farms over the years have devastated wild salmon and have polluted the ocean, they do harm and they do kill Fraser River sockeye salmon," said Gardiner emphatically. "The second message, is that those fish are very unhealthy and very bad for your consumption."

"Thirdly, they're doing this to sockeye salmon and First Nations all along the river have to be consulted about this and proper consultation hasn't taken place and we should be up in arms about that."

The fish farm disease report gag order comes off of Marine Biologist Alexandra Morton in the latter part of August, and as a scientist she'll be able to talk about it at that point. There is already enough evidence and tales of weakened and sick salmon so soft you can poke your finger into it the side of it, even without seeing any disease reports.


According to Morton, the Pacific Salmon absorb diseases from the penned Atlantic Salmon as they swim in and around the farms. By the time they're up the Fraser, they're infected.


Morton posted in her Facebook blog today, "There are 1000 fish farms in Norway, if they can't make money off those, they should rethink their business! They can't just have every ocean in the world, can they??"


Another huge part of the issue is that the sea lice problem is exacerbated by the debris and excrement from the caged fish, creating vast beds of lice that choke the ocean floor and cling to anything they can get their suckers into. So by the time salmon are in fresh water they always pick up a few of those nasty hitchhikers.

Farmed fish are Atlantic salmon which aren't native to Beautiful BC waters and tinkering with Mother Nature in such a way is dangerous and disrespectful of the planet's ecology. Additionally, when Atlantic farmed salmon escape, such as when pens are broken, or through human error, the fish then hunt down and devour less aggressive Pacific salmon like sharks. Atlantics aren't programmed to swim back up the river, so they swim around attacking transient Pacifics.

Like something out of a Frankenstien movie, the aquaculture industry is tinkering with sex hormones to genetically modify the sex of the fish, raising concerns that residue from these hormones is getting into the human food chain. No, little Johnny won't wake up little Suzie one morning, but this is uncharted territory.

According to Anissa Reed, the main reason why farming companies don't want to take the industry on land, is because they may lose up to half their profit. They would be faced with huge setup costs, which may seem prohibitive in the short term to the companies, but some people feel that's where the British Columbia government needs to step-in with the infrastructure funding to support a major shift of fish farms on to terra firma.

How do you say yes to farmed salmon on BC's coast with that kind evidence in hand? This rosy picture isn't one that ensures the sustainability of future stocks. It throws the whole industry into question.


Native food fishery and culture is threatened and they're fighting back. The sports fishing industry will also be decimated with the loss of the salmon and they need a voice in this issue as well.

So it seems at the present, we'll all end up eating salmon that is diseased and unfit for human consumption and comes to us as a sterilized, genetically modified, pasty lump of white meat from a tin with a flashy label.


Slowly but surely, we've got a new Mother Nature taking over and it's a not-so-splendid lady coming to call.

The Cohen Commission wraps up mid-Sept and the report will be forwarded to the feds are expected to make the decision on the industry sometime in June 2012.


The rally is August 30, at the Cohen Commission offices, 650 West Georgia Street and organizers want the community to bang a drum and get it on!


Watch the Voice for more details on this as they emerge.

Related links to previous Voice stories

Return of the Paddlers August 14, 2010 here.

From Hell To Hope October 18, 2010 here.

Death By 1000 Cuts October 28, 2010 here.

Morton Backs NDP April 27, 2011 here.

Mayday For Wild Salmon May 11, 2011 here.





Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice






















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