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General · 16th May 2010
Susan Westren
It is shameful that of all the Victoria / Vancouver radio and television media, only the Global News Network accurately reported on the May 8 Victoria protest against open net fish farming. Approximately 50 Quadra Islanders were part of the walk from Centennial Square and were present at the rally at the Legislature Buildings. I was amongst them. Some of us who were in the front of the walk were fortunate to find a place to stand on the steps of the Legislature, and from there were able to watch as the migration of other protesters arrived, a river of people which just kept coming and coming until a enormous crowd was gathered on the lawn of the Legislature.
Global News estimated there were 5,000 of us. The photos at salmonaresacred.org show a truer reflection of the number of people present. (See this website for a link to Global’s coverage.) As Alex Morton noted, we were “a powerful, peaceful, huge community of people.”
At the rally, one of the speakers was Thea Block, a grade 10 student from Cortes Island who won the “Create your Canada” contest held last year by Victoria NDP MP Denise Savoie. Thea’s idea to move salmon farming to closed containment inspired a private members bill which on May 5 was introduced by Vancouver’s NDP Fisheries and Oceans Critic Fin Donnelly. Thea was in the gallery and chalked “salmon are sacred” on the steps at Parliament Hill.
Bill C-518 directs the Federal Fisheries Minister to develop, table and implement a transition plan, outlining how fish farm operations will make the move to closed containment systems. The plan would also ensure that those currently working in the industry will be protected during the transition. There is a link to the wording of Bill C-518 at Denise Savoie’s website. (http://denisesavoie.ndp.ca/)
We must now make known our support for this Bill. As Alex says, once again it is up to us. Here are some of the ways you can help. Write to our MP John Duncan asking him to get salmon farms out of our oceans and send a copy to Fin Donnelly. Write to our MLA Claire Trevena asking her to convey your support for land-based aquaculture. Write to MP Fin Donnelly to say you support his bill, and copy your letter to Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. Look at ‘How to Help’ on the salmonaresacred.org website, for a list of other ideas, and don’t forget to sign the onsite petition.
Without doubt there are pressures other than fish farms on wild salmon stocks, global warming and overfishing amongst them; but the move to closed containment will eliminate the predation of sea lice on juvenile salmon, which is wreaking havoc on wild salmon stocks in every country where open net pens are being used as feed lots.
As an added incentive for fish farming companies, some large food chains are opting to buy salmon only from the now existing U.S. land based farms. Further proof of the viability of land-based systems is the recent report of the Save Our Salmon Marine Conservation Foundation report. “The report concludes that land-based closed containment is technically and economically feasible and that the design presented in the study would allow for substantial reductions in both capital and operating expenses.” See saveoursalmon.ca for details.
Write a letter today and help save our wild salmon. Their survival depends on us.
Susan Westren
for the Sierra Club of Quadra Island