Marine Harvest seeks resolution to protest of two salmon farms
September 2, 2017 – Alert Bay, B.C.:
On Friday September 1st, senior management at Marine Harvest Canada met with leadership of ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay, British Columbia (B.C.) to try to resolve the Nation’s protest of the company’s Swanson Island salmon farm. While both parties explained their positions, the ‘Namgis First Nation would not engage with Marine Harvest about its farming activities, rather wishing to discuss issues related to rights and title with B.C. and Canada.
Marine Harvest remains committed, open and willing to engage in meaningful dialogue with neighbours, First Nations, and others with interest in our business of salmon farming.
The company is becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of the protesters camping on its salmon farms, and has requested they leave the workplace. Health and safety concerns include: fire risk of gas and electrical cables, lack of safety gear (personal floatation devices), sleeping on floating structures at night, inclement weather, and risk of injury from heavy-duty machinery.
• Since late July, several protesters coordinated by the Sea Shepherd activist organization entered several of the company’s private worksites, ignored biosecurity and safety protocols, and intimidated employees. On August 24 (Swanson site) and then again on August 31 (Wicklow site), two small groups of protesters constructed make-shift camps on the company’s floating fish cages and have refused to leave.
• The protesters have requested the Province of B.C. revoke the two salmon farm tenures.
• Swanson Island salmon farm tenure and aquaculture license were issued in 1990, and the farm operates with licenses granted by the Province of B.C. and Canada.
• Wicklow salmon farm tenure and aquaculture license were issued in 1989, and the farm operates with licenses granted by the Province of B.C. and Canada.
• The current Provincial tenure licenses were granted in 2013, after five years of consultation with several First Nation groups who claim interest in the region.
• Over the past decade, Marine Harvest has collaborated with the ‘Namgis First Nation on science projects, has supplied juvenile salmon to the Nation-owned land-based salmon farm, and has continued to seek regular dialogue.
• Marine Harvest Canada has a proven track record of collaboration with First Nation partners – with some agreements dating back 20 years. The company operates within the traditional territories of 24 First Nations and has formal agreements and positive relationships with 15 of these Nations and six First Nation-owned businesses.
• Marine Harvest Canada is one of the region’s largest private employers, with over 550 employees dedicated to raising and processing fresh salmon. About 20% of the workforce is First Nation descent.
Managing Director, Marine Harvest Canada, Vincent Erenst:
“I’m disappointed that after meeting with the leadership of the ‘Namgis First Nation we were unable to find a path toward resolution. However, Marine Harvest is always willing to speak to the ‘Namgis or other interested parties about our business, to try and respond to concerns or questions, and to find benefit for both parties.”
“While we often have people visit our sites to observe our operations and learn more about our business, we ask that they follow strict health and safety protocols. Our employees have been very patient and have tolerated ongoing trespass and nuisance at their workplaces this past month, but we continue to insist that the uninvited visitors leave.”
Director of Public Affairs, Marine Harvest Canada, Ian Roberts:
“Given the opportunity for dialogue, we would appreciate hearing the concerns of the ‘Namgis First Nation about our business. We are committed to finding solutions that work for both parties, and to sharing third-party confirmation that our salmon farms operate responsibly and are achieving world leading eco-certification standards.”