National Chief Perry Bellegarde backs B.C. First Nations activists occupying two fish farms

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      Protesters who've moved into two B.C. aquaculture operations have received support from the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

      “The AFN fully supports First Nations in their assertion and exercise of inherent rights and title," Chief Perry Bellegarde said in a statement issued today. "First Nations have long identified the threat of the fish farm industry to wild salmon that have sustained our peoples for generations."

      Last week,  'Namgis First Nation and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society descended on a Marine Harvest fish farm on Swanson Island, which is near Johnston Strait off Vancouver Island. Wild salmon travel through the strait on their way to the spawning grounds.

      On Thursday (August 31), more than a dozen members of the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw and the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwamis then began occupying the Wicklow Point salmon farm east of Port Hardy.

      It comes in the wake of a huge escape of Atlantic salmon from the Cooke Aquaculture fish farm southwest of Bellingham.

      "Wild salmon is an integral part of the ecosystem and a central part of First Nations cultures on the west coast," Bellegarde said in today's statement. "This situation presents a clear opportunity for both the federal and provincial governments to respect and act on their obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples including the standard of free, prior and informed consent. It is time for the Crown to meet with the affected First Nations and resolve this matter.”