Meanwhile a few members of the Namgis First Nation are currently mired in a bitter fight with Marine Harvest Canada, proving themselves in the process to be incapable of inviting reconciliation, creating the impression of an embittered community huddled in one of the more picturesque territories in the country. Marine Harvest Canada and other companies like Cermaq and Grieg Seafood grow fish in the Broughton. Marine Harvest Canada's leadership believed Kuterra offered the opportunity to act on the basis of reconciliation.
Marine Harvest Canada agreed to supply Kuterra with smolts for their fish farming enterprise. Moreover Marine Harvest Canada has nothing to be ashamed of in approaching the issue of reconciliation with Canada's Indigenous people. Two decades ago, Marine Harvest Canada was solicited by Kitasoo/Xaixais to join a partnership to grow salmon and the company successfully partnered with Kitasoo Seafoods Ltd. because fish farming was something the Kitasoo/Xaixais were intensely interested in doing. Since partnering many years ago, the two companies continue fish farming on Canada's Pacific Coast, doing so with increasing success. This success begs the question, why can there be no acts of reconciliation with the Namgis when it's demonstrably achieveable elsewhere?
What is so curious about the Namgis protest in the Broughton is the number of third party interests intervening with often extemporaneous arguments. These third parties are entwined with Indigenous interests in protesting the fish farm industry, truncating efforts to achieve reconciliation in the Broughton. There's a group at Echo Bay called the Salmon Coast Field Station, there is Alexandra Morton, and there is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It often sounds like the tail wagging the dog when this mix of Indigenous and activists air their issues in public and some media.
It was a visit to OrcaLab on Hanson Island where Alexandra Morton began a quixotic campaign against what she purports is a devastating impact of fish farms on killer whales (orca). That was in 2007, at which time she declared the orca would disappear within 10 years. But within the past 10 years according to every anecdotal report by OrcaLab volunteers, there is an abundance of orca surrounding OrcaLab near Robson Bight every year. This abundance is recorded on camera, the health of whales and cetaceans is never questioned. The abundance of food is readily apparent as well, also on camera. At the same time the most ferocious of Alexandra Morton's attacks on fish farms are removed from OrcaLab's websites. OrcaLab is sitting on a corner of the Namgis traditional territory.
With declining numbers of Pacific salmon the centre of complaints with the current coterie of protesters from Namgis (mainly from Alert Bay, B.C.) illegally occupying Marine Harvest Canada's privately held farm sites, one wonders if any thought has been given to other potential causes of withering numbers of Pacific salmon in Namgis traditional territory. It is a fact that the commercial fishery in pursuit of Pacific salmon was reduced to a rump of its former self on the west coast by the 1970s and early 1980s, long before salmon farms existed.
The number of Pacific salmon returns are lower everywhere on the coast, including places far removed from any fish farms. Furthermore, a great deal of research never openly discussed, but which does in fact exist, is the inability of Canada's Pacific salmon hatcheries to provide genetically suitable salmon for the ecology, proving Pacific salmon being reared in publicly owned hatcheries are genetic misfits too weak for the task of surviving in the ocean and growing and feeding and returning to spawn.
This failure of Pacific salmon has been studied by an actual scientist named Carol Schmitt who owns a company called Ocean Pacific, near Port Alberni, and she has proven that a dramatic improvement in returns of Chinook salmon can be attained by performing vigilant collections of genetically appropriate eggs and milt, and raising them in hatcheries for one year instead of 6 months, thus letting nature work in favour of the fish.
It seems unlikely that a community such as Alert Bay and its Namgis residents with an illustrious history in commercial fishing, and abundance of traditional knowledge in the various provisons of seafood in the area, would not benefit from fully engaging in the practice of fish farming. Other area communities like the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht have done so by training personnel in the environmental sciences, and creating protocol agreements that provide jobs and create small business related to the industry.
As others on the Pacific coast have done, Namgis could negotiate from positions inside the industry on matters of farm site location, employment, preservation of sacred sites and other obviously sensitive concerns. But standing on the outside with no input except from arguably questionable sources like Alexandra Morton and the Echo Bay activists makes it difficult to take seriously the concerns of Alert Bay area Indigenous people.
It is interesting to note that Alexandra Morton, an American, who benefits from Amerian funding sources, is a lay-biologist who appears to have a particular mission coincidentally supportive of national interests of aquaculture in Alaska, which so happens to come at the expense of Canada's own Indigenous people seeking economic opportunities in the Broughton. Her subterfuge is deeply engrained and highly suspicious to some as a result, and what if it's entirely related to dismantling the potential legacy of economic opportunity in Canada's Pacific coast in favour of American investors in their thriving Alaskan aquaculture industry?
The position of First Nations in Alaska is secure by agreement and investments where they own some of the dozens of privately operated hatcheries in Alaska growing salmon to release into the Pacific, which return to Alaska to be scooped into the nets and packaged as wild for markets in the USA. Canada's rather small investments in aquaculture are extraordinarily successful and a real thorn in the side of Alaskan fish farmers. Has anyone in Namgis First Nation ever thought about those aspects when Namgis children are growing up wishing they could have a job and career in their own traditional territory? As a footnote to this present foofaraw, Kuterra is a failed business enterprise too heavily burdened by debt to continue operation.
Furthering the calamity of having protesters illegally occupy industrial facilities, protesters
are smoking weed on occupied areas of the industrial site raising serious safety concerns.
“We had sought this injunction after many months of protest activity and numerous failed attempts to begin dialogue with protest organizers. Our staff must be able to work in a safe environment, free of harassment and intimidation,” says Vincent Erenst, Marine Harvest Canada’s managing director. The company is pleased that the courts recognize the company’s legal right to operate without harm, and that its staff may work free of harassment, threats, and intimidation.
An Indigenous nation in the Broughton called the Namgis First Nation invested an extraordinary sum of membership money in aquaculture to grow fish, which is fish farming. If this investment is an indication, apparently there is a strong interest in the Namgis territory to grow fish, in this case, at a fish farm called Kuterra.
CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. - Nov. 14, 2017 – Today the Supreme Court of British Columbia allowed for an adjournment of Marine Harvest’s application for an injunction, to allow the defence to prepare its response. During this adjournment, the court has ordered protesters to vacate Marine Harvest’s Midsummer aquaculture site.
The injunction application will be heard December 14, 2017.
The order states that “If persons re-occupy the Midsummer Site, the Plaintiff may reset its application for hearing upon 36 hours’ notice.”
The protesters have until Friday November 17, 2017, to remove all tents and structures from the private worksite.
Marine Harvest’s application for injunction comes after the company’s repeated efforts to seek dialogue with local First Nation leaders for a safe and peaceful resolution to protest, and after multiple requests that activists not enter the private worksite.
The dispute surrounds Crown tenure renewal applications, due June 2018, for several of the company’s farm sites. Marine Harvest had delayed its business operations to accommodate the safety of protesters, and to allow for dialogue with local First Nation leaders.
“First Nation leadership have made it clear to us that their issue is primarily about indigenous rights and title. This important government to government discussion needs to occur so our business and many other businesses in the Province have clarity about this process,” says Vincent Erenst, Managing Director at Marine Harvest Canada. “We remain very willing to find compromise that may lead to short-term and long-term solutions.”
The tenure renewal process includes Canadian First Nations’ right to participate in consultation with the Crown (Provincial government).
Vancouver, B.C. - Dec. 22, 2017 - Today, a British Columbian Supreme Court granted Marine Harvest Canada an injunction against the actions of several named and unnamed activists at its salmon farms located east of Port McNeill.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Voith’s reasons for judgement can be read here.
Marine Harvest’s application for an injunction came after repeated efforts to seek dialogue with protesters for a safe and peaceful resolution, and after multiple requests that activists not enter the private worksite.