In the first of my interviews with the candidates, I visited the home of Mark de Bruijn. Cortes Islanders may remember him as a former principal of our elementary school; He has also worked as a science teacher, college lecturer and former biologist for Canada’s Department of Fisheries. Now Mark de Bruijn is the Green Party of Canada’s candidate for Powell River-North Island.
Marine Harvest did not have the consent of local First Nations, when they set up an open net fish farm off Swanson Island farm thirty-one-years ago. They did not need it, with a Social Credit government ruling British Columbia. Only this is 2017, the courts recognize aboriginal title, and Premier John Horgan is more conscious of First Nation’s concerns. At the invitation of Chief Bob Chamberlain of Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, Horgan and three of his top cabinet ministers visited Alert Bay. They met with forty Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) leaders, who demanded Horgan remove the Broughton Archipelago’s open net fish farms.
Canada’s $2 billion Aquaculture industry is embroiled in controversy. While there may be some debate as to whether wild salmon spread more infections to British Columbia’s penned stock or vice versa, there have been incidents like the Queen Charlotte Strait’s 2015 sea lice epidemic. On May 20, 2016, Dr Kristi Miller, from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, announced that there is “a potential Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) in farmed Atlantic salmon samples” collected from a aquaculture facility off the coast of Vancouver Island. In Norway, where HSMI is more common, this disease is “associated with generally low mortality on farms, generally between 0 to 20%.” The stress (and thus mortality rate) is undoubtedly greater on wild salmon, which need to capture prey, escape predators and swim upstream to spawn. So, acting on behalf of marine biologist Alexandra Morton, ECOjustice is suing Canada’s Ministry of Fisheries for putting wild salmon at risk. Some argue the best answer is to bring salmon farms on land.
In 2002, the number of pink salmon returning to the Broughton Archipelago was only 3% of normal. Alexandra Morton subsequently co-authored a study reporting that 68 – 98 % of the fish tested in this area had the sea louse “L. salmonis.”[1. S. Saksida et al, Population ecology and epidemiology of sea lice in Canadian waters, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Table 3: Reported sea lice levels on juvenile wild salmon in the Pacific.] A University of Toronto study links the 2015 sea lice epidemic to fish farms in the same area. The article that follows is based on Marine Harvest Canada’s (MHC) Ian Roberts’ response to anti-salmon farm critics.