Alert Bay resident Eli Cranmer drums for the protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province.(Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Protest hits Horgan’s office in Langford

Residents from across the Island are standing up against fish farms

Protesters with signs, banners and cardboard salmon in hand demonstrated outside of Premier John Horgan’s office in Langford Friday.

Fish Farms Out Now, an ad hoc civil society group led by indigenous elders and leaders, was joined by supporters in a peaceful protest against fish farms in B.C. waters.

“First Nations people have been protesting against these floating mortuaries that are spewing their pathogens into the marine environment and after 30 years are destroying, are decimating, are wiping out the indigenous salmon stock, which are the food supply of indigenous communities on this coast,” said Victoria resident Bobby Arbess. “It is time that we all stand up and demand from this new government that action be taken immediately.”

In a statement the group noted demonstrations were being “held in solidarity with the occupations of Marine Harvest’s fish farms on Swanson and Midsummer islands within the traditional territories of the Musgamagw (including Dzawada’enuxw, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Gwawaenuk), ‘Namgis and Mamalilkala First Nations, where First Nations leaders have peacefully occupied open-net salmon farms for the last 50 days.”

Their demands include no restocking of existing empty pens or sites, no use of hydrogen peroxide to be used to treat sea lice infestations, no renewal of licenses and/or tenures, and for the industry to remove all open-net cage fish farm sites from the collective territorial waters.

Protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Fish Farms Out Now is calling for the provincial government “to honour its election promise to remove open-net fish farms — a request which First Nations in the area have repeatedly asked of government for the past 30 years.”

While in opposition, B.C. NDP politicians campaigned against the net-pen industry and led a committee that recommended B.C.’s North Coast be kept off limits to them.

Roughly 20 protesters gathered outside of Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road to kickoff Friday’s protest.

“The salmon is sacred,” said Alert Bay resident Dawna Ambers. “If we lose the salmon we lose a big part of our culture … I look in my freezer and there’s no salmon there anymore, it’s just an empty freezer.”

RELATED: John Horgan wades back into salmon farms

Ambers, whose given name is Tsastilqualus, added “it’s so, so bad for our people … Stop the permits now and get the cesspool out of our waters.”

Protesters referenced another event earlier in the week where Horgan met with First Nations in Alert Bay who are protesting open-pen fish farms, stating Horgan failed to release a significant statement against fish farms after that event.

Horgan was also accompanied by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, the MLA for North Island. Rachel Blaney, MP for North Island-Powell River also attended the event, which was held on Oct. 10.

While Horgan did not commit to removing the fish farms in Alert Bay, he instead announced Popham would be meeting with the federal Minister for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, “to tell Mr. Leblanc what she has heard here today and what the commitment is of our government, which is first and foremost to protect wild salmon.”

RELATED: Protest hits office of Saanich MLA Lana Popham

Horgan also said he was “prepared to meet again in Victoria with a delegation of your choosing so we can talk about next steps.”

No one appeared to be in the Langford office Friday during the protest – a note taped to the door indicated the office was closed while staff were out for meetings and would reopen later in the afternoon.

The Premier could not be reached for comment but in a statement, Popham said “the B.C. government respects the right of people to engage in peaceful protests. As always, we ask people to remain respectful of one another and encourage the resolution of issues through discussion wherever possible.”

She reiterated that she was at the event on Oct. 10 to listen and appreciated the invitation. “I hear and understand the concerns being raised by First Nations and members of the public and I have been proactive in meeting with my federal counterparts regarding the importance and urgency of this issue. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the industry now generates nearly $800 million in annual value, while supporting numerous jobs in rural and coastal areas.”

Popham added, “I am committed to continuing to work with First Nations, the aquaculture industry, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure B.C.’s aquaculture sector is environmentally sustainable and respects First Nations’ rights while continuing to provide good jobs for British Columbians.”

With files from Hanna Petersen/Black Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Just Posted

Santa’s Light parade glides through town on Saturday

Vancouver Island’s most popular Christmas parade is back for its 36th year

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

West Shore RCMP catch thieves in the act in Colwood

Thieves were trying to steal a utility trailer from the driveway of a home

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing starts to pick up

Crabbing in Sooke Harbour continues to be good with large male Dungeness around

Sooke girls volleyball squad places seventh at Island tourney

Dawn Gibson Sooke News Mirror The EMCS senior girls volleyball team made… Continue reading

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

Wet weather expected for much of coastal B.C.

The Weather Network is calling for up to 200mm of rain to fall in some areas of the South Coast and Vancouver Island

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Running back propels Spectrum Thunder into first Subway Bowl final

Brandon Robbins scores hat trick of touchdowns

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

Most Read