Last Friday, demonstrators gathered outside B.C. Premier John Horgan’s constituency office in Langford to protest open-net fish farming along wild salmon migration routes.
The issue has been raised and debated for decades, but the recent change in the province’s administration has given both parties a reason to try and resolve it.
Voices raised against open-net fish farming argue that the water flowing freely from the holding pens of farmed fish allow diseases and parasites to pass over into the natural habitat of wild stocks.
Moreover, some First Nations also claim that aquaculture industries are setting up these farms on their land without their permission.
The opposing view argues that open-net fish farming is a highly lucrative industry which employs almost 3,000 people, and was valued at $796.6 million last year.
No real response from the NDP administration
According to local media reports, Horgan responded by saying that Agriculture Minister Lana Popham would take the First Nations’ arguments to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who would have the jurisdiction to take further steps.
Leader of the ‘Namgis Nation, Chief Ernest Alfred expressed his disappointment to Times Colonist on Friday, about the fact that no real promises had been made by the government, beyond “‘listening’ and talking to federal counterparts.”
“We’ve had premiers and politicians visit the Alert Bay Big House before, but never to make promises,” Alfred said. “My message to the B.C. NDP is that they have a real opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past.”