First nations visit Norway to protest fish farms

PRINCE RUPERT—First nations from northern B.C. arrived in Norway on Tuesday to proclaim the Skeena watershed a “fish farm free zone.”

Representatives from Lax Kw’alaams and the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Tribal Council of the Broughton Archipelago presented the declaration at the annual general meeting of Pan Fish ASA in Stavanger, Norway.

Pan Fish, the world’s largest fish farm operator, is awaiting final approval to open three salmon farms with the Kitkatla First Nation.

“We have seen the devastation done to wild salmon stocks in the Broughton Archipelago and other regions of the southern British Columbia coast by escapes and sea lice from the salmon farms, and we don’t want the same thing to happen in our area,” said Eugene Bryant, of the nine Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, who travelled to Norway this week.

“We have to appeal to Pan Fish shareholders and let them know the environmental impact their company is having on our coast.”

Bryant said his message is that “the company is not welcome to put farms in [our] territory, at the mouth of the Skeena River.”

“We won’t let the destruction continue north,” said Stan Dennis, who speaks for the Allied Tribes.

Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-kwa-mish and chair of the five bands of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk Tribal Council also travelled to the meeting and will help Bryant present the group’s declaration to King Harald V, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and to Jillian Stirk, Canada’s ambassador to Norway.

“Pan Fish’s operations are putting our traditional food sources in jeopardy—the effluent from the fish farms is starting to poison out clam beds,” said Chamberlin.

“Clam digging is a commercial enterprise and often the only source of income for our villagers. We want Pan Fish to be 100-per-cent responsible for the environmental and human health aspects of their Canadian operations.

“We expect the company to be a responsible corporate citizen and develop and implement operational strategies to reflect those priorities. Our governments aren’t listening to our concerns, so it is our duty to take these issues directly to the company responsible.”

The first nations attended the annual general meeting along with the Pure Salmon Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based global project of the National Environmental Trust

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