A rally for wild salmon packed the grounds of the Art Gallery on Saturday with over 700 participants in a call to the government of Canada to close down salmon farms on the B.C. coast and pursue transparent solutions for restoring wild salmon stocks.
“We were so busy with people flooding the tent wanting to sign up, we couldn’t sit still for a minute” says Derek Spragg, member of the Wild Salmon Circle. The people wanted to be part of a fast-growing volunteer citizen base that plans to take strategic action to remove salmon farms from Canadian waters, and give political muscle to the effort to preserve and restore wild salmon stocks.
As the rally began, Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk-Ah-Kwaw-Ah-Mish First Nation and an entourage of singers and drummers from the Broughton Archipelago sang traditional songs. Victor Geurrin of the Musqueum First Nation welcomed the crowd with a song and story accompanied by a traditional drum.
Modern political approaches were side by side with ancient First Nations traditions: halfway through the proceedings rally organizers held up a banner with an email address and asked everyone to take out their cell phones and send a text message to the Prime Minister: “Remove Salmon Farms Now!”
Well-known biologist Alexandra Morton told the crowd, “I’ve been fighting a 20 year losing battle on this issue… the only thing that can save our wild salmon from the effects of salmon farming is the people.”
Chief Bob Chamberlin, Chair of the First Nations Leadership Aquaculture Working Group and Hereditary Chief Robert Joseph, B.C. Hereditary Chief of the Kwagiulth Nation spoke to the people about the importance of wild salmon in all of our lives, and the respect for wildlife we all must have in our hearts.
Dr. Larry Dill, a professor of behavioural ecology at Simon Fraser University, has worked with Pacific Salmon Forum and World Wildlife Fund projects on aquaculture. “As a result of these experiences, I am absolutely convinced that sea lice from salmon farms are a significant risk factor for local wild salmon populations in BC,” stated Dr. Dill. “In addition, so far unpublished work by my collaborators and myself show that the situation may be even worse than those studies indicate. Behavioural changes caused by sea lice cause infected salmon fry to be killed by predators at a higher rate, parasitized fish take greater risks to feed, they don’t swim as well, and they have trouble schooling with their fellows. So they’re more likely to end up in a predator’s gut.”
Other speakers included David Lane, environmental Director of the Fisherman’s Union, and Shannon Ellis of Bella Coola Grizzly tours. Emcees Tyee Bridge and Maria Morlin of the Wild Salmon Circle acknowledged political leaders present at the rally—Spencer Herbert, MLA Vancouver West End, Don Davies, MP Vancouver Kingsway, Peter Julian, MP Burnaby New Westminster, Shane Simpson MLA Vancouver Hastings, and Michael Sather, MLA Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows.
This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more actions and help us by joining the Wild Salmon Circle.
For more pics of the rally, please check out our image gallery.