Members of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation say salmon farms in their territory are destroying wild salmon runs and polluting clam beds and they must leave.
On Thursday and Friday a small flotilla of boats from Kingcome Village, Gilford Village and Alert Bay, with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s research vessel “Martin Sheen” in the background, handed eviction notices to four Cermaq Canada salmon farms. Hereditary chiefs say notices will be issued to all 27 farms in their territory.
With chiefs in traditional robes, drumming and singing, the group ignored efforts by Cermaq employees to prevent them from landing, handed over the notice and then held a cleansing ceremony and wild salmon barbecue at one of the farms.
“Our people have spoken. We want salmon farms out of our territory,” said chief councillor Willie Moon, the first to pull into the farm off northern Vancouver Island.
Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw consists of five nations, with 576 members, whose territory encompasses the Broughton Archipelago east of Alert Bay. Cermaq and Marine Harvest have farms in the area.
“I just told them they were trespassing and we had every right to be there. This land belongs to our people,” Moon said in an interview.
Last spring 40 per cent of young salmon leaving the territory were killed by sea lice, Moon said.