Five Conditions for tar sands oil
and salmon farming in BC
• On May 15, BC awoke from its media-pundits-pollster-drugged dream of “change for the better” to yet another Liberal majority government. Clark’s government touts a “five conditions” stance for moving tar sands oil or bitumen through BC’s pristine watersheds and coastal seas. If the BC government were actually trustworthy, I would feel hopeful. But our government has repeatedly shown itself to be anything but trustworthy and so far has not delivered on the most crucial of these five conditions: namely “consultation with First Nations.” Geraldine Thomas-Flurer, coordinator of the Yinka-Dene Alliance, and the 160 Nations firmly opposed to Enbrige are still waiting to hear from Clark. First Nations are standing confidently in the way of a terrifying, oily future on the BC Coast. They have been fuelled for millennia by a food and force called wild salmon. First Nations leaders have called for – and demonstrate themselves – “It’s time to warrior up!”
On May 10 at an NDP rally near the salmon hatchery in Port Moody, I handed Mr. Dix a change.org petition. It contained 68,602 signatures calling for a ban on industrial open net salmon farm feedlots on the migration routes of Fraser Sockeye Salmon, as per Justice Cohen’s recommendations. Justice Bruce Cohen, appointed by the prime minister to look into the causes of collapse of the 2009 Fraser River Sockeye return, stated clearly in his final report, “If risk is greater than “minimal,” salmon feedlot should “cease to operate.” He added that the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) is clearly “in a conflict of interest” trying to protect wild salmon while supporting and promoting salmon aquaculture. On May 10, Mr. Dix showed very little interest; after accepting the document, he simply said nothing.
If Clark really cares about our economic and food sustainability, and if she has the power to enforce her five conditions on the movement of Alberta oil through BC, she should establish five conditions for the operation of industrial open-net Atlantic salmon feedlot farms – given that wild salmon is the economic and cultural backbone of the BC coast.
Most people are unaware that, while BC handed over the regulation of the salmon farming industry to Ottawa – and the industry itself – the former government wisely retained the right to terminate sea bottom leases to farms with 60 days notice and no burden of financial compensation to the companies “if it is in the public interest.” Well, Christy, it is clearly in the public interest unless you choose to ignore the majority of people in BC, dozens of the best salmon disease scientists and Justice Cohen. As reported last month in Common Ground’s Salmon Confidential issue, we’re seeing the spread of piscine reovirus (PRV) associated with a disease that makes the salmon’s heart too weak to pump blood. While government dithers, the European infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISA), in the influenza family and the most deadly salmon virus known, appears to be in BC farm salmon and completely unregulated.
The sheer recklessness of government not to contain these European viruses could collapse a core part of our food sustainability in wild salmon. Meanwhile, Aqua Bounty genetically modified Atlantic salmon are swimming in circles in a closed containment facility in the mountains of Panama. Aqua Bounty is seeking approval in the US and Canada for their sale. Their eggs, sourced from Aqua Bounty’s Canadian connection on our Atlantic coast, have been injected with the growth gene of a Pacific Chinook salmon and the “switch-on” gene of a pouter fish which Aqua Bounty claims will double its rate of growth. Unless we protect our wild salmon from collapse due to these diseases, how far are we from having genetically modified salmon in our grocery stores?
Alexandra Morton and the numerous Wild Salmon Warriors of SalmonAreSacred.org, along with support from the Green Party’s Andrew Weaver and Elizabeth May and folks in the NDP like Lana Popham propose the following five conditions for the sustainable operation of salmon farms on the BC Coast:
1. Support the BC land-based aquaculture industry in innovative, cutting-edge aquaculture that recycles energy input and offers time-limited wage assistance in hiring marine aqua culturists.
2.Terminate marine salmon feedlot Licenses of Occupation on the Fraser sockeye migration route as per Cohen recommendation #19.
3. Halt the spread of piscine reovirus as per the published sound science, by withdrawing License of Occupations for each infected salmon farm.
4. Don’t destroy the US market for all BC salmon; bring the ISAv research teams together, determine the status of ISA virus in BC, then follow international protocol and be the first region in the world to stop this virus from mutating.
5. Evaluate the status of European salmon viruses in the provincial trout and steelhead stocking program and prohibit release of EU virus infected trout into BC lakes.
Esteemed fish biologist Alexandra Morton, along with Ecojustice, has recently launched a lawsuit charging the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Marine Harvest with placing Atlantic salmon infected with piscine reovirus in net pens on the Fraser sockeye migration route. Your financial and moral support is needed to bring this to case to a successful conclusion. Please donate to www.gofundme.com/FishFeedlotsOut for legal costs and the ongoing biology, advocacy and filmmaking work. Also help us get to 100,000 signatures for removal of farms off migration routes by signing at change.org/savewildsalmon and sharing it with everyone you know. Don’t buy farm salmon and repeatedly write to your MLA demanding they terminate salmon feedlots on wild salmon migration routes. Join the conversation on Alexandra Morton’s Facebook page.
Vancouver has a goal to become “Greenest City in the world” by 2020. How can we be truly “Green” if we allow the sale of farmed salmon by an industry that pollutes the ocean and threatens wild salmon? In our city, people wash viruses from farmed salmon down the drain back into our watershed. If the city can push for a ban on shark fin importation, I want to see a ban on the sale of farmed salmon in Vancouver to protect the salmon and sushi lovers worldwide. Watch the free film at salmonconfidential.ca and decide for yourself.
With the DFO failing us all, the time has come for the people to become ‘The Wild Salmon Department’.
Adam S. Sealey is a native of the BC Coast. He grew up in places like the Discovery Islands where salmon farms are placed in extremely narrow channels forcing outward migrating salmon smolts to pass close to the pathogen spewing salmon farms. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch for the Wil D. Salmon Show coming soon to Shaw Cable 4 on Shaw TV. Follow the amazing and hilarious adventures of Wil D. Salmon and his sidekick Husky Sheppard in “Star Traveller.”
Follow them across Canada at jpeachygallery.com/star/
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