Bishop of B.C. takes side in fish-farming dispute

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Logan McMenamie, Bishop of the diocese of British Columbia, says the diocese “honours the First Nations' right to decide who enters their traditional territories.” Photo: Bramwell Ryan

Logan McMenamie, bishop of the diocese of British Columbia, is calling on the federal and B.C. governments to shut down fish-farming operations on traditional territories of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, one of the province’s Indigenous peoples.

According to a press statement released by the diocese Tuesday, September 26, McMenamie travelled to Gilford Island, one of the islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, to meet with the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw chief and council Sunday, September 24. He told them “the diocese of British Columbia honours the First Nations’ right to decide who enters their traditional territories,” and called on both the federal and provincial governments to revoke the permits of aquaculture companies operating on these territories.

Tensions between some Indigenous communities and fish farms in the area have been intensifying recently. In late summer, members of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw, ’Namgis and other First Nations occupied two fish farms belonging to Marine Harvest, a Norwegian fish farming company. The protesters say the fish-farming operations threaten wild fish stocks, and that the company never signed agreements with the Indigenous communities to operate fish farms on their traditional territories. They say they won’t leave until the company’s licenses to operate are revoked.

The provincial government grants companies the right to use Crown land, while the license to fish-farm is issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Marine Harvest says it is willing to “discuss a long-term solution” with Indigenous groups and is asking both levels of government to intervene in the dispute.

Some concerns about fish-farming were heightened this summer after pens holding an estimated 305,000 Atlantic salmon were damaged at a fish farm in the San Juan Islands, a Washington State island chain that faces Vancouver Island, allowing some of the fish to escape. Some people worry the presence of Atlantic salmon could threaten the existence of Pacific salmon native to the area, or that diseases could spread from farmed fish to wild stock.

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Tali Folkins
Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Well, that proves it then. The support of the church in a political issue makes it clear that the issue of First Nations/fish farming is all about power and belief. Zero science.

    • I would encourage, any positive science to come forward. Since these farms, containing A foreign diseased invasive species of Salmon have arrived. We have witnessed & continue to, the damage they inflict. Everything from sludge on clam beaches to Toxic delousing baths of peroxide. Consistent deaths, of mammals & birds caught on the pens. Let’s take a walk about the people that live around farms, there are a number of us that have seen the before & after. All the science, that comes out of these companies. Is feel good right ups, from their own perspective. If it is not, they disregard & immediately Sue. For some reason, they always try to play us against them, instead of working together on respect & truth. Is it really to much to ask, to support the natural food chain. Do the farming on land, Marine harvest made 230+million this years first quarter. They can afford change, for a better future & to do the right thing.

  2. There’s a ton of science showing the harm fish farms are doing to our wild salmon and the environment and the way of life of the first nations. DFO and industry choose to ignore it . The fish farms wouldn’t make money if it wasn’t for the subsidies from government coming from the hands of the taxpayer… you and I.
    I’m glad to see First Nations along the coast along with individuals and many organizations taking a strong stance on the protection of the BC coast. These disease and sealice spreading factories need to go.

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