Feature Story Thursday, March 14, 2013
Not On My Plate
Activists want local business to join the open net feedlot salmon boycott
Bravo Restaurant owner Louis De Jaeger (L) and anti feedlot activist Stó:lō elder Eddie Gardner join forces to keep farmed salmon off dinner plates. Below, Rex Weyler from Greenpeace showed his support for the boycott.
ravo Restaurant owner Louis De Jaeger doesn't like farmed Atlantic salmon and vows never to serve it to his patrons, and he wants other local businesses to join him in a boycott against it.
On Thursday, De Jaeger opened his doors to a couple dozen anti feedlot salmon activists led by Stó:lō elder Eddie Gardner and Rex Weyler from Greenpeace, who declared Bravo a salmon feedlot-free zone, and presented the restaurateur with a certificate of appreciation and acknowledgement for his stance.
"The government has an ethical responsibility to stop this. They know what's going on. Harper knows what's going on. Mark Strahl in our riding, we have to let him know too," De Jaeger said.
De Jaeger is the first local restaurant owner to publically rail against farmed salmon.
"I totally accept the torch. I'll pass it on to other businesses, but I think the next step after this, is for businesses to go to the suppliers and if we don't buy from them, they don't buy from the farms, and that's the only way that Harper feels the heat is when we burn it and we make him economically responsible ... that those dollars are not coming in," Jaeger said. "That's what we need to do and I totally agree, I think this is the right path and this is the way we need to go for now until somebody listens."
Gardner wants feedlot salmon off store shelves and restaurant plates in Chilliwack, and has been protesting at stores that sell farmed Atlantic salmon. Now he's asking the local business community to back the feedlot salmon boycott effort.
"There's a growing number of people in the business community who are backing this for good reason," Gardner said adding that he'd like to see some support and leadership from the City on the issue.
"What I'm looking for from city hall is their encouragement to business to make Chilliwack a farmed salmon-free zone."
He says the sports fishing industry, ecotourism and the Aboriginal fishery are each bigger in terms of the economy than open net salmon feedlots are which harbour disease that the wild salmon pick up on their way past back up the rivers to spawn.
According to Gardner, the particular type of virus that strikes wild salmon affects their hearts and makes them lethargic swimmers, to the extent that many never make it back to spawn.
He told those at Bravo that bad habits are easily ingrained, making change can difficult for people.
"Some of the changes that have to be made is the removal of open net feedlots on the coastal waters of British Columbia because they are spreading diseases and parasites into the wild. They're breeding grounds for that and open net pens, its impossible to quarantine them."
"We're coming into spring now and the Fraser River sockeye salmon are going to be going past the feedlots. Feedlot operations cause great harm in the marine environment, great harm to wild fish and we have to pull out all the stops to try and oust the open net feedlots, not only here in Canada but around the world."
Gardner wants to educate consumers about the perils that come with supporting the farmed salmon industry.
"There's something more powerful to change people's habits, and that is to go to the business community and to persuade the business people, look, just take this product off the shelves, take it off the menu and once that happens, then people are forced to change their behaviour."
Pacific Wild Salmon at Bravo Restaurant.
"That's why we're here today, to celebrate the business leadership that Louis De Jaeger is providing and it's quite inspirational. It will make it more motivating for other businesses to follow suit."
Gardner says a moratorium is needed because activists have tried to provide "direction and support" to farms so they move their operations into containment on land. To no avail. The farms have resisted.
Weyler says the government's response has been typical all the way down the line on every issue, and people like Alexandra Morton shouldn't be the ones spearheading the movement when there are fisheries officers who are supposed to be the ones looking after the resource.
"Wherever there's money to be made, we have found that our government, particularly our provincial government in the last decade here in BC, and our federal government now, have served the interests of these large corporations, which has cost us, the people and our marine eco systems," Weyler said. 'They're now trying to drive pipelines through here to bring tar sands bitumen to the coast to put it on tankers to send it to China, risking our entire coast."
"If the salmon are destroyed here, think of the communities that are destroyed with it."
"March 21, at noon, we will discuss a similar arrangement with the manager of Jackson's restaurant on Vedder road. Bravo will show the good example for taking advantage of the positive image of selling only environmentally sustainable food products, and of being a proud supporter of the wild salmon by participating in our national boycott. I will talk with the manager of Jackson's restaurant early this week to finalize the plans for that direct action."
"March 28, at noon, we will be doing a rally for the Boycott outside Fraser Valley Meats in Chilliwack as they sell both wild and farmed salmon. We will hand out info to their customers. I will ask them in advance to remove open cange feedlot salmon from their shelves, knowing they woiuld not want to do so. I will let them know we will be there on March 28 at noon and we will have a press release about this direct action."
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