At the Eleventh-Hour, BC’s Wild Salmon in Crisis

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – August 24, 2017) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance (FNWSA) are shocked and infuriated by Cook Aquaculture’s release of 305,000 specimens of an invasive salmon species into the waters of BC and Washington.

The UBCIC and the FNWSA have continuously advocated for the removal of open net-pen salmon farms in our waters and for BC and Canada to support a transition to on-land closed-containment aquaculture.

Our wild salmon stocks continue to return at historic lows. Wild salmon are confronted with a gauntlet of obstacles severely impacting their survival rates.

The impact of the open-net pen fish farms continues to be overlooked and unaddressed by the governments of BC and Canada. The aquaculture industry, with numerous sites blocking critical wild salmon migratory paths, has been definitively linked to the decline of salmon stocks worldwide and is correlated with increased levels of sea-lice, Piscine Reo-Virus (PRV) and Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) disease in BC.

As of Tuesday, August 21st, our wild salmon are now confronted with an additional 305,000 fish potentially spreading sea-lice, PRV and HSMI throughout our oceans and rivers and competing for food stocks and spawning grounds with threatened wild populations of chinook and steelhead trout.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, states, “If the governments of BC and Canada continue to ignore the impacts of open net-pen aquaculture on wild salmon we are looking to an imminent future without the constitutionally protected wild salmon food source critical to First Nations in BC, and without a once proud economic driver that our wild salmon fisheries provided to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike.”

An immediate moratorium must be placed on all open net-pen fish farm applications coast wide, and significant steps must be taken to remove fish farms from our waters to on-land facilities. Canada and BC must act to implement all the recommendations of the Cohen Commission.

Media inquiries: Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President-Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chair-FNWSA
Phone: (604) 684-0231

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