Watershed Watch Sends Letter to Minister in Support of Fish Farm Occupations

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Watershed Watch Salmon Society sent this open letter today to Minister Dominic LeBlanc in support of the peaceful occupation of fish farms by the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago.

Watershed Watch calls for the implementation of DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy and the removal of fish farms along salmon migration routes. Sign the petition today.

View full letter

September 18, 2017

Dear Minister LeBlanc,

The Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia, have peacefully occupied two salmon farms operating against their wishes in their traditional territories. These tactics may seem extreme to some, but one must consider the full history of salmon farming in B.C. and the accumulated knowledge of the industry’s ecological impacts, for a balanced viewpoint.

Since our inception 19 years ago, Watershed Watch Salmon Society has been supporting, communicating and producing science on the interactions between wild and farm salmon. We support the assertion of aboriginal rights in B.C. In this case, published science, past investigations and our firsthand experience lead us to support the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, Namgis and Mamalilikulla Nations’ stance on removing salmon farms from their territories. In addition, we are calling on other organizations, businesses and citizens across Canada to support the removal of salmon farms from wild salmon migration routes.

At least 13 scientific publications (Appendix 1) report that parasitic sea lice from salmon farms can infect, kill or impede the growth of juvenile wild salmon and drive their populations toward extinction. Diseases from salmon farms are also a threat to wild fish. We now know Piscine orthoreovirus is found on B.C. salmon farms and can cause heart disease, and we are unaware of evidence that proves it is harmless to wild salmon. We understand that industry may be introducing this potentially harmful virus into the ocean via infected smolts. The more science reveals about this industry, the more risk is identified; yet, DFO has taken no meaningful precautionary action  to protect wild fish from salmon farms.

Numerous investigations and inquiries have examined the threats posed by salmon farms (Appendix 2). Several call for the removal of salmon farms and a transition of the industry to closed-containment. Despite these and other recommendations, the provincial and federal government have taken no significant action on the salmon farming file. This inaction must also be taken into account when considering the tactics of First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago.

Over the years, Watershed Watch Salmon Society has partnered with DFO and industry on several research projects in an attempt to come to shared agreements on the impacts of salmon farms. After investing significant time and effort, all we primarily experienced was delay, distraction and denial.

It is clear to us that your agency is putting the desires of the salmon farming industry before the interests of B.C.’s wild salmon and citizens. Two prestigious entities—an expert panel appointed by the Royal Society of Canada and the $37 million Cohen Commission—concluded in 2012 that DFO may have a conflict of interest, whereby the Department’s mandate to promote the salmon farming industry may impede the agency’s ability to protect wild salmon and biodiversity (Appendix 2).

In conclusion, we implore you to remove salmon farms from the territories of the aforementioned First Nations and other regions of B.C. where they overlap with wild salmon migrations.


Stan Proboszcz

Science Advisor, Watershed Watch Salmon Society


View full letter (including appendices)


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