Marine Harvest seeks injunction to remove protesters from Midsummer Island salmon farm

November 11, 2017
Marine Harvest seeks injunction to remove protesters from Midsummer Island salmon farm
Vancouver Sun, Derrick, Penner,  November 11, 2017

Salmon-farming company Marine Harvest has informed First Nations activists that the company will seek an injunction to remove protesters occupying one of its farm sites in the Broughton Archipelago.

First Nations activists have occupied a spot on Marine Harvest’s Midsummer Island farm since Sept. 4; on Friday, a company spokesman said activists were informed its officials are filing for an injunction “to safely remove protesters and their encampments.”

“(Two Marine Harvest employees) came early this morning when everyone was eating breakfast and getting their coffee,” said Molina Dawson, one of three women on the site who received the notice of application for the injunction.

“Right now we are going to continue peacefully occupying the Midsummer fish-farming facility,” Dawson said, but the company is scheduled to be in court Tuesday seeking an injunction to remove the First Nation’s encampment on the farm.

At issue is Marine Harvest’s tenure to operate on the site, which expires in June of 2018. The Musgamagw are among First Nations communities that oppose salmon farms in what they claim as their territory and are pressuring the province not to renew the lease.

In a statement, the company said it has delayed the farm’s operations to ensure the safety of protesters and to try to start dialogue with First Nations leaders.

“First Nation leadership have made it clear to us that their issue is primarily about Indigenous rights and title,” said Vincent Erenst, Marine Harvest Canada’s managing director in an emailed statement.

“This important government to government discussion needs to occur so our business and many other businesses in the province can be given clarity about this process,” Erenst said.

In its statement, the company said its existing tenures were granted in 2013 after five years of consultation with five First Nations.

In the meantime, Erenst said the company “raises a living animal that needs to be taken care of and until meaningful discussions are taking place, we will concentrate on continuing to take care of our fish and our employees.”

The province has signalled that it will put greater emphasis on implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in its relations around salmon farming, which calls for the prior consent of First Nations in pursuing resource development.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham sent Marine Harvest a letter in October, reminding the company that the province retains the right to end its tenures when they expire, and “companies should make every effort to develop and maintain healthy relationships with First Nations in whose territories companies are doing business.”

Dawson said the protesters are fine with the industry operating in B.C., “just not in our territory.”

“We’re hoping that the government gets our message strongly enough and is interested in reconciliation enough that they will not renew these (tenures),” Dawson said.