Native leaders appeal to king over fish farms

Two B.C. native leaders delivered a statement of protest yesterday to Norway’s king in a fight against a Norway-based firm’s plans for fish farms in B.C.

Pan Fish Canada Ltd. plans to build three fish farms in coastal areas near the Skeena River.

“We’ve seen the devastation done to wild salmon stocks in the Broughton Archipelago and other [areas] by escapes and sea lice from the salmon farms,” said Stan Dennis, representing the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw’ Alaams. “We won’t let the destruction continue north.”

Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-kwa-mish First Nation and Eugene Bryant of Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw’ Alaams, in full regalia, were ushered to the door of King Harald V’s palace yesterday and presented their statement to the king’s steward.

In an earlier meeting with Norwegian environment and fisheries officials, Chamberlin was told that fish-farming is banned in eight of Norway’s fjords because of the danger to wild salmon.

“It infuriated me,” Chamberlin said from Norway. “I thought, ‘Goodness, here’s a company in Norway that knows this, and is not bringing their safest practices to our country.’”

Chamberlin said fish-farm effluent is poisoning B.C. clam beds and putting mercury into ground fish. “Pan Fish’s operations are putting our traditional food sources in jeopardy,” Chamberlin said.

The most contentious fish-farm site Pan Fish plans to build is described by opponents as “at the mouth of the Skeena.”

It’s about 40 kilometres away, said Pan Fish Canada CEO Keith Bullough. “I cannot . . . say we have no impact in the areas in which we operate, but the impacts are certainly minimal, they are measurable, and they are manageable,” Bullough said.

The company has successfully negotiated deals with two native bands for its salmon farms near Port Hardy, he said.

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