Letter to the Editor: Not all First Nations are against fish farms

November 2, 2017
Letter to the Editor: Not all First Nations are against fish farms
“Many First Nations people are in fact gainfully employed by Marine Harvest.”
North Island Gazette, November 2, 2017

I am writing with regard to the latest remarks by some First Nations regarding fish farms. The truth of the matter is many First Nations people are in fact gainfully employed by Marine Harvest at their tenures in the Broughton and other areas.

The claim that ALL First Nations bands support their protest is far from the truth. The claim that the Alert Bay bands on-land fish farm is a model of success is also false. If it is such a success, why is it for sale?

Even band members from some of the protesting bands are in fact employed by aquaculture in their native territory. The previous chief of Village Island in fact had, and continues to this day to have, a working relationship with Marine Harvest. My husband is a First Nations’ person, born in Alert Bay, and has been employed by Marine Harvest as a vessel captain for 20 years. Others in the North Island are also employed by Marine Harvest. James Walkus is employed by harvest fish and he employs many natives from the area. There are working relationships with the Klemtu band, providing employment to First Nations in an extremely remote area. West coast First Nations have working relationships with other aquaculture companies as well.

It is time to stop dealing with the hysterical rants of Ms. Morton and her falsehoods and examine the benefits of a highly successful industry to the economy of BC, especially to the North Island where employment from commercial fishing, mining, logging, and the pulp mill have all fallen to levels too low to sustain the North Island economy. Instead of threatening to see the end of Aquaculture in the North Island, perhaps the local MLA Claire Trevena should stop protecting her own paycheque and start being concerned about her constituent’s paycheques. Her promise to eliminate fish farms from the area is so irresponsible, and it shows such a lack of concern for her constituents and their futures and those of their children.

Aquaculture is progress. As a one-time commercial fisherman, I am aware that commercial fishing and salmon stocks were well in decline many years before salmon farms were introduced to the area. There is an excellent book on the subject of the decline of the salmon industry written by Geoff Meggs entitled ” Salmon The Decline of the British Columbia Fishery.” It is well written and extensively researched. One quote from the book is “In September 1927 canners reviewed their results and discovered the bubble had burst, despite a pack of 1.3 million cases. Runs coastwide had been late and weak with the sockeye pack totalling only 308,032 cases”. So already as early as 1927 the wild salmon stocks were already in trouble decades before any salmon farms were introduced to the West Coast.

Perhaps the people who are so quick to believe the protestors exaggerated claims should read up on the real history of the wild salmon and commercial industry and gain the real truth about what happened to the wild salmon.

Regards,
Heather Olney
Qualicum Beach