PHOTOS: Tofino flotilla for salmon

From the bow of a traditional dugout canoe, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tsimka Martin greets over 30 vessels floating for the protection of wild salmon. “The coho are starting to head up for their migration up the rivers now so send them some good energy,” Martin calls out over the megaphone. Martin says DFO is not doing what is right for wild salmon. She wants the organization to recognize that sea lice and diseases are deadly, and to remove salmon farms. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Black Bear Kayaking guide Shail wants to see more bear cubs in the Sound.
Clayoquot Action’s Dan Lewis is calling for a transitional strategy for fish farm workers.
The spelling ‘Fish Pharms’ on the 45-foot Heron boat was a play on the antibiotics Cermaq puts into their fish feed.
Over 30 vessels participated in the Sept. 26 demonstration for the protection of wild salmon.
Masked demonstrators show their love for wild salmon from atop an Ocean Outfitters whale watching boat.
A Remote Passages zodiac joins the flotilla with a clear message to DFO.
This local SUPper might have been the hardest working on the water during the gathering.

On Saturday, Sept. 26 dozens of boats, kayaks, and canoes gathered on the water in front of Tofino’s First Street dock to shed some light on the issue of fish farms and the protection of wild salmon. Organized by the Nuu-chah-nulth Salmon Alliance, the peaceful water demonstration saw participation from local conservation groups, whale watching operators, local business owners, and recreational fishers.

“The coho are starting to head up for their migration up the rivers now so send them some good energy,” Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tsimka Martin said over the megaphone as she greeted the flotilla participants.

Martin told the demonstrators that “maƛasuwił”, meaning salmon farm, means underwater prison in Nuu-chah-nulth language.

“It’s time for the return of the c̓ac̓ałuk (river keeper). It is time for the removal of the salmon cage,” she said.

From a kayak, Clayoquot Action’s Dan Lewis voiced his concerns about wild salmon.

“The reason we are gathered here today is because eight years ago the Cohen commission recommended that the fish farms in the Discovery Islands be removed this Sept. 30, 2020 if it cannot be shown that they are not causing harm to the Fraser River Sockeye. They had a sea lice epidemic this year. They have viruses like PRV on those farms. The science is showing that the harm is being caused to wild salmon and we believe that those farms need to be removed,” said Lewis.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced Sept. 28 that assessments on nine pathogens showed a minimal risks to wild salmon, effectively ending the remote possibility of closing farms in the Discovery Islands by Sept. 30.

Jay Parsons, the department’s director of aquaculture, said the risk of the viruses transferring from farmed to wild stocks in the Fraser River is less than one per cent.

READ: Minimal risk to wild salmon from viruses on farmed B.C. salmon: Fisheries Department

READ: B.C. salmon farm opponents demand answers from DFO

Martin refutes the decision.

“DFO is not doing what’s right for wild salmon. That leave it up to a people’s movement. I want them to recognize that sea lice and diseases are deadly and to remove salmon farms,” she told the Westerly.

Tofino live-aboard Alistair Horne joined the Sept. 26 flotilla with his 45-foot former trawler called ‘Heron’. A bright sign reading: ‘Fish Pharms Out’ was draped over the side of his boat.

“It’s a play on the antibiotics Cermaq puts in [fish] feed,” he said, adding that he wants to see fish farms moved to land.

Lewis said while fish farm jobs are important, it’s just as important to protect all the jobs in the wild salmon economy.

“We have been calling for a transitional strategy for workers for years. We can create way more abundance by protecting wild salmon than by continuing farming,” said Lewis.

MP Gord Johns, NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans, is calling on the Liberal government to keep their promise to implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission.

“The Minister can’t both promote open-net salmon farms and claim to be a protector of Pacific wild salmon,” said Johns. “By choosing to defend these farms, the Minister is ignoring local Indigenous knowledge and the Cohen Commission – a $36 million scientific study,” said MP Johns in an Oct. 2 media release.

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said a promise by the Liberal party before the 2019 election to transition from open-net salmon to another system of salmon farming by 2025 is in the works and the studies on the nine pathogens are part of that process.

However, she did not commit to whether a new system would be in place by 2025 beyond developing a plan for it.

Jordan said four weeks of consultation will be done with the seven First Nations in the Discovery Islands.

– With files from Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Willie Mitchell’s Fish for the Future catch-and-release derby nets $60,000 for wild salmon

READ: B.C. salmon farmers donate 60,000 pounds of canned salmon to food banks

Fish FarmsSalmonTofino,

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Developer Andrew McLane, right, digs a shovel in the ground of Lot 13 as mayor Mayco Noel cheers on the idea of bringing more housing to West Coasters. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet council approves development permit for 33-lot housing project

“Mr. McLane, we wish you nothing but luck and we are counting on you.”

Beach fire remains, like charred driftwood, have long been a point of contention in Tofino, but the town’s municipal council isn’t ready to ban beach fires just yet after receiving an unprecedented response from community members opposed to a prohibition. (Westerly file photo)
Blaze of opposition prompts Tofino’s council to delay beach fire ban decision

“The period of the year where this challenge is most acute is behind us now.”

Thaddeus Lenover kisses his mushroom picking partner Teagan Evans on the cheek after a rainy day out in the woods harvesting wild mushrooms. (Nora O'Malley photo)
Mushroom pickers say it’s less busy this year

Mushroom picking partners Thaddeus Lenover and Teagan Evans spent the better part… Continue reading

Surfrider Pacific Rim’s Michelle Hall and Lilly Woodbury raise their marine debris buckets to eliminating single-use plastics and creating a thriving Canadian circular economy. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Canada’s plastic advancement is viewed a win for the West Coast

“This is a victory for the ongoing history of environmental activism on the West Coast.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Most Read