A direct action group dedicated to protecting marine wildlife is urging consumers to stop eating Atlantic salmon farmed on the coast of B.C.
Representatives of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society made the call after its research vessel the R/V Martin Sheen returned to Vancouver at the end of its mission to investigate salmon farming.
The Sea Shepherd mission called Operation Virus Hunter launched from Vancouver last July. Actor Richard Dean Anderson welcomed the R/V Martin Sheen on its return.
Known for his title role on the TV series MacGyver, Anderson is a Sea Shepherd supporter. On board the R/V Martin Sheen at the False Creek Fishermen's Wharf, the actor related that he has spent many years in Vancouver.
“Anything that potentially damages this province in any way, shape or form, I take great interest in,” Anderson said.
Sea Shepherd founder and former Vancouver resident Paul Watson sent the ship named after actor Martin Sheen to work with anti-fish farm campaigner Alexandra Morton.
There are many concerns about open-net fish farms on the sea. These include the spread of disease and lice affecting Pacific wild salmon.
“If you eat farmed salmon, you’re putting this entire coast and its people at risk,” deckhand and Comox Valley native Katja Walther said at a news conference Wednesday (September 7) on board the vessel.
The R/V Martin Sheen spent 50 days sailing up and down the coast looking at fish farms, and collecting marine life samples.
The Sea Shepherd crew also worked with First Nations, and served eviction notices to fish farming companies. One of these was Marine Harvest in Campbell River.
Simon Ager, a photographer with the group, related that he has known about the issue of fish farms for 20 years.
“It’s just going to destroy the whole ecosystem. It’s going to destroy the coastal way of life, First Nations way of life,” Ager said. “There’ll be nothing left on this coast if these farms are allowed to stay in the water. And the bottom line is that these farms need to come out of the water now.”
The Sea Shepherd campaign was welcomed by the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw Nations in Campbell River.
In a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw demanded the removal of fish farm from their traditional territories.
They told Clark and Trudeau: “We, the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw view the destruction of wild fish and marine ecosystems by the fish farming industry as part of the long history of genocide forced on our people by the governments of Canada. Salmon are essential to our well-being and the well-being of our world.”