Our Position on Fish Farms

Nuxalkmc Protest Farmed Salmon, 20 January 2003
Norwegian Embassy, Vancouver, British Columbia

"We have seen the destruction of our Territory since contact. We have not seen ooligans for three years and we do not want the same to happen to the salmon. The river is like a bank and this is what feeds our People. The natural salmon stock is what we need to protect. Fish farms are endangering the natural salmon stock and must be stopped." Nuxalk Chief Nuximlayc, 2003.

Above: Nuxalk Head Hereditary Chief Nuximlayc (right) at the Norwegian Embassy in Vancouver on 20 January 2003. Chief Nuximlayc is talking while Stein Gudmund, Honourary Consul General of Norway (left) is listening. He is explaining why the Nuxalk do not want Norwegian fish farms in their territories. One reason is that the farmed fish escape and breed in the wild salmon habitat. As proof, the two jars on the table contain the heads of escaped Atlantic salmon.

Right: Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Snuxyaltwa in regalia speaking in front of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in Vancouver on 20 January 2003. He is protesting the fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls owned by the Norwegian company Omega (a subsidiary of Pan Fish) which is planned to produce some 20 million Atlantic salmon smolts annually for BC fish farms. In 2006 Pan Fish merged with Marine Harvest and became the biggest farmed salmon company in the world. Norwegian corporations own almost 98 percent of all fish farms in BC

Right below: Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Sximana (Q'umulha Rhonda Schooner Sandoval) in front of the Seattle corporate headquarters of Omega (Pan Fish) in January 2003. The Norwegian company never contacted the Nuxalk Nation during the planning process for the fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls. When Chief Sximana travelled to Seattle to try to meet with company officials, Omega (Pan Fish) reacted by locking the doors and shutting the blinds. The Omega representative Kjell Aasen was never present on the Ocean Falls site to consult with the Nuxalk.

Nuxalkmc Protest Against Fish Farms
Ocean Falls and Vancouver, 2002 and 2003

Right: Nuxalk and Heiltsuk protesters at the Omega (Pan Fish) fish farm hatchery in Ocean Falls, 15 January 2003.

"Enough is enough," says Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Nuximlayc "It is like when smallpox came into the valley. It killed our people. Now they want to do the same to the salmon."

Hundreds of people travelled to Ocean Falls to join the Nuxalk and Heiltsuk protest against Omega (Pan Fish) and to try to stop the fish farm from being built in 2003.

Above: Nuxalk House of Smayusta roadblock against Omega's farmed fish being trucked through Nuxalk Territory in 2002. Below: Nuxalkmc protest Omega farm fish hatchery at Ocean Falls, 15 January 2003.

Nuxalkmc protest the Omega fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls, 3 Dec. 2002.

Nuxalkmc protest the Omega fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls, 3 Dec. 2002.

Nuxalk protest the Omega fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls, 3 Dec. 2002.

Nuxalk blockade Omega's transport truck, Bella Coola, 11 Dec. 2002.

Nuxalk demonstration against farmed salmon in Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Nuxalk protest against farmed salmon
at Safeway, Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Nuxalk protest against farmed salmon
at Safeway, Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Nuxalk protest against farmed salmon
at Safeway, Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Nuxalk protest against farmed salmon
at Safeway, Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Left: Nuxalkmc youth Amber Schooner, Iris Siwallace and Nadine Schooner are protesting because: "We must speak out and fight against all fish farms. They are threatening to destroy all of our traditional West Coast foods; not only the natural sealife but also part of our spirit, identity and our sacred bond to the ocean."

The Nuxalkmc will always care for their wild salmon: the significance of sharing the Nuxalk salmon; the stewardship of the Nuxalk salmon; and the recognition and respect placed on Nuxalk salmon. The salmon within our traditional territories were placed here since the beginning of time by "Tatau," the Creator, as a gift to our People for our sustenance. Our treatment of the Nuxalk salmon is embedded within the cycle of life of the Nuxalkmc and within the laws of our People.

Our position on fish farms is defined by the cultural significance of the Nuxalk salmon to our heritage and its importance to the survival and continued existence of the Nuxalkmc. We, the Nuxalkmc, are opposed to fish farms: we do not want them in our traditional territories. We do not want fish farm products or its feed supply transported through our territories. We do not condone fish farms. We understand the dangers of fish farms to the wild salmon and the environment on which they depend.

All species of salmon are born in Nuxalk streams and rivers and many migrate through Kitasoo First Nation waters. The Kitasoo must recognize and respect this, as traditional neighbours. The Kitasoo must ensure the safety of our wild salmon. We protect salmon spawning grounds and salmon habitat to ensure their healthy returns. The Kitasoo must protect the wild salmon as well.

Kitasoo Chief Archie Robinson states: "Our ancestors shared the resources." The Nuxalkmc respond: "Protect the wild salmon; never put them at risk or expose them to any threat. Fish farms pose major threats to all our wild stocks of salmon." The fish farms are an international and commercialized salmon business that is driven by profit margins.

Farmed Atlantic salmon are not part of our Indigenous Title and Rights and we have never used farmed salmon in our potlatches and ceremonies. "Tatau," the Creator, gave us the wild salmon as a gift to take care of so that we can exist as a People. Wild salmon is an integral part of our Indigenous Title and Rights and is necessary for our traditions. Indigenous laws and spiritual beliefs are enshrined in wild salmon; we cannot change our own laws for monetary gain. The fish farms are not a sharing enterprise: only a few people profit from them.

The Atlantic salmon product of the fish farms will become the "mad cow" disease of marine foods in the future. The Canadian and British Columbia authorities have mismanaged the salmon and marine resources for too long. They must clean up and sort out the mess they created and not use the decline of the wild salmon stocks and the related mismanagement of commercial fisheries as an excuse to accept fish farms as the business of the future.

What is wrong with what we have? Our Nuxalkmc ancestors left us ample salmon resources to share. Fish farms are not a way of sharing but are profit driven. We will stop any shipment of fish farm products transported through Nuxalk Territory. This warning is clear and is not to be compromised by any party. We recommend that all those who are against fish farms write a letter of support for the Nuxalk or send a statement to the media expressing their views. Many efforts and attempts have been made to break our support base. We must stand strong.

By accepting and supporting fish farms, the Oweekeno Kitasoo Nuxalk Tribal Council compromises the health and well-being of all those who live in Nuxalk Territory. Why have the Kitasoo been allowed to violate the 1995 moratorium on fish farms in the northern waters of British Columbia by installing fish farms owned by Marine Harvest? This act broke traditional and sovereign protocol because the Kitasoo did not consider the impact or consequences on the Nuxalk salmon food fisheries and our People. Assumptions that the Nuxalk approved the fish farms and the transporting of its products through our territories have broken our trust.

Installing fish farms without consulting the Nuxalk or obtaining their approval is not acceptable. The arrogant and greedy behaviour of Marine Harvest (a subsidiary of the Dutch-based multi-national corporation Nutreco), the Kitasoo, and the British Columbia government is insulting to the Nuxalk. The Marine Harvest (Nutreco) fish farms were installed before receiving approval from the authorities of British Columbia and Canada, during the period prior to 2002 when the moratorium on fish farm expansion was still in place. Nutreco's fish farms at Jackson Pass are an example. A public inquiry must look into this corruption and those who are imposing fish farm threats in our communities must be held accountable.

Nutreco claims that almost half of its 16 fish farms "involved First Nations." Such misleading lies are used by the corporation as selling tactics for promoting fish farms to other First Nations. We resent this because it gives the false impression that First Nations support fish farms. There is a fight brewing involving on the one hand "Indigenous Rights as a First Nation," and on the other "commercial rights" (in collaboration or joint venture with a First Nation). We demand a return to the moratorium on fish farm expansion on the northern British Columbia coastal and inland waters.

Our Indigenous Title and Rights must not be included in the same context as the commercial or business venture of a First Nation. Such collaborative acts require the extinguishing of Indigenous Title and Rights, regrettably with the compliance and consent of some First Nation leaders. Certain compliant First Nations are given "pretend powers" to use Indigenous Title and Rights as collateral. This is using Indigenous Title and Rights as a bargaining chip for economic and joint venture projects. It attempts to give credence to the process, confusing the transactions while obtaining First Nations' consent for relinquishing their Title and Rights.

Already the commercial fisheries have destroyed our eulachon run; now it's the wild salmon that are at risk. The Nuxalk sovereign position is based on the Nuxalk Indigenous Title and Rights Question and does not rely on legal actions or treaty negotiations. Our position does not require us to consult with fish farm companies or the British Columbia government. The Nutreco fish farms and the Omega fish farm hatchery at Ocean Falls (owned by the Norwegian corporation Pan Fish) are major threats to the wild salmon stocks, the Nuxalk food fishery, the environment, and the conventional commercial fishery. We do not want the fish farm industry in our territories.

Ocean Falls is in the gray area of traditional protocol between the families of the Nuxalk and Heiltsuk Nations. Therefore this makes it off limits to any treaty negotiations. The Omega (Pan Fish) fish farm hatchery is the nucleus of the danger that fish farms place on northern British Columbia coastal and inland waters. This danger that must be stopped while it is still only a threat, before the man-made disaster of industrial fish farms creates a domino effect, destroying our British Columbia wild salmon stocks and the marine environment.

The Nuxalkmc believe that First Nations who are involved or in partnership with fish farm companies in British Columbia have done so without the well informed and educated consent of their citizens. This is corruption for profit.

Chief Qwatsinas . . .
17 February 2003
Q'umk'uts' (Bella Coola)

Above: "Kjell Aasen Is A Big Fat Liar." Forest Action Network exposes the lies of Omega (Pan Fish) to the Nuxalk and Heiltsuk First Nations. Right: Warren Snow and other Nuxalkmc protest against Pan Fish farmed salmon being sold at the Superstore in Vancouver, 3 April 2003.

Nuxalkmc Testify Against Fish Farms, 6 October 2006
Bella Coola, British Columbia

D. Snow: My name is Snuxyaltwa. Snuxyaltwa means brightness of the daylight. I'm one of the hereditary chiefs from south Bentinck. Our people have been here thousands of years. That name tells me so. My blood has been since that time, the beginning of time, here in this territory.

Our people have not treatied with any government. We've never given anybody the rights to this territory. We've made this statement over and over for hundreds of years now, since you people came from wherever you come from.

Our people made a stand in Ista in 1995 against the [Interfor] logging corporation. Our people made a stand against the hatchery in Ocean Falls. This is not a territorial issue. It's our human rights issue, because we are the salmon people. I made this statement before. We know that nobody from any government has come to tell me that fish farms are good for our people. Nobody has come to us and proved that it's right for the people.

We totally survive on the salmon. It's our way of life. The way that has been given to our people to continuously ask for it, and we don't ask for it from the government. We ask from our creator. He's the one that put us here.

Our people still do a traditional ceremony down by the riverbank and continuously thank the Creator for this. I ask that you honour and respect that. Our people still potlatch. Yes, we do work in today's world, but we've made the statement that if it's going to hurt the environment, then it's no good for our people.

Report on [NON] Sustainable Aquaculture

C. Moody: I don't believe in sitting down when I'm talking to you so-called government officials here. My name is Cecil Moody – my English name – and my Nuxalk name is Kw'yutsmalayc.

What you're talking about here is a big threat to my and our community. I talk for Nuxalk people who respect me and who respect the food that's put in the river by Manakays'. That is going to be taken away from my people and our valley by what you're imposing on here. I would like to welcome you, but I can't, because you are a threat to our valley.

This is one thing I do not like around me or around this valley. It's already been destroyed enough, and enough is enough, and no more should be done in this valley. The reason why I'm saying this is the Kitasoo have one fish farm already in place. That's a threat to us. There's a hatchery at Ocean Falls, and that's a threat to us.

This is why I'm saying this to you. The fish farm does not belong in my territory or in this town. We are just getting economics put in place for the people of this valley, and that's the wild salmon. The wild salmon support the valley people and support the commercial people – men and women. Now this comes in place, and that's a big threat to us.

We have nothing here, but we are happy. You come here and impose on us, and we are unhappy. It's not right. We should not have to worry about anything like this in this valley. You said it yourself. It's a beautiful valley. You flew in. The mountains there, the rivers there. . . Now you're going to come here and put that in place. What would it be? You picture it. You come later on to me and tell me it's beautiful; it's done. You come right to me and tell me that you've done a great thing for this valley. It's not right when a foreign government comes in here and imposes all this stuff on us. We are a healthy community where we are, but we need more economics put in place that are friendly to our environment.

That's what we need here, not something that is an enemy to our environment. We do not need that. I'm not that young anymore, and I'm looking up at you. You're the same way as I am. Why are we making these decisions for our future generation? It's not right. We're destroying the future generations'. . .

It's always anything that's put in place is to destroy in this valley. You look anywhere else, up and down this coast – proud. Only reason why they're passed is they're certified. By who? The government. Certification is always a big thing to the government. They never listen to a person talk that is not certified. . .

We are talking about our valley. We're not talking about other places; we're talking about here. I don't want to see that fish farm coming here whatsoever. I want it out of here. We've already got two that are close by us now. You talk about these Atlantic salmon. We had it here. We had it in Port Hardy. They say they don't escape. They escape and mix in with our wild salmon. There you are. It's all here. In this valley we know about it. You ask people here. Let them speak and say their piece. We are a small community, and we are closely knitted.

We are trying to protect what we've got left here. It's not right to have foreign companies and corporations come here and destroy our beautiful valley. If you could come back here later on after this is done and say how good it is, then I'll bow my head to you. But if it destroys our environment, why did you impose it on us? Why?

Report on [NON] Sustainable Aquaculture

P. Siwallace: One of our speakers from a first nation indicated we are a non treaty band. I'd like to emphasize that again. We have a lot of treaty nations in B.C. They are the ones that seem to get a good cash flow into their respective reserves and traditional territories. Non treaty bands, on the other side, are severely handicapped with a lack of funds. We don't have the same cash flow. The government chooses to listen only to treaty Indians, not to the non treaty Indians. I'm going to make that clear.

We're talking about first nations issues here as well as non first nations issues, but I look up here, and I don't see any first nations representation on this committee. Why? History has proven this is always the case with first nations. We are impacted by everything outside of our traditional territory, but we don't have a voice there. We don't have a voice in this committee.

We are tired of being the fall people for everything that has happened in our traditional territory. When you look at the farmed salmon issue, you have to look at the big picture, and the big picture is the world. We're living in a global society today.

We have these filament nets that have been pillaging the oceans for years. We have deep draggers. We have all the technology geared up to destroy what keeps us going. We as human beings, as first nations people, depend on that salmon. We are not the only ones that depend on it. All the animals in the forest – the trees, the birds, the bears, everything – depend on that salmon. Once that salmon is gone, where are we going to be?

I cannot help but think of what happened to the buffalo with the Plains Indians. In order for them to get under the control that they did get, they had to kill off the buffalo. To me, what's happening is similar. Our fish are being depleted rapidly. My children and my grandchildren are not going to have the luxury of seeing a wild salmon, at the rate we're going. They'll probably only see farmed salmon. That is exactly what we don't want here. We don't need that.

There's a reason why we're called first nations people. We were the first people here on this continent. We were put here by our creator. You guys were put over in Europe. We accept that fact. You have to accept that also.

When you take a look at what we have here, we've got something called reserves. We don't own them. We've got certificates of possessions. To me, this farmed salmon is just another way of controlling us. We don't need that.

I was born here, and I intend to die here. I've always said that. I'm going nowhere. You guys are coming here, and we'll probably never see you guys again, outside of Gary Coons, who has come here on a regular basis. The rest of you I've never seen before. You come here and listen to us once, leave, and make recommendations that are going to affect me directly for the rest of my life and my children's lives. I can't accept that.

If you guys are sincere about what you're doing here, come to the communities and see what we have to live with and how we have to survive. A fisheries technician working for us often has to get funds from this existent budget to try and save the salmon out there. We get no help that way.

It seems like first nations are always getting set up for projects to fail, so that somebody can point and say: "See, they don't know how to do business." I say that because when the nation took over and kicked the Department of Indian Affairs out of here, we took over our own oolichan program. The amount of money that the Department of Indian Affairs had for the oolichan program up here was about three times the amount of money, if not more, that they gave us and asked us to have the same service delivery. Impossible. We couldn't do that. DFO has been imposing policies on us for years, and this is another one.

I went to a meeting in Nanaimo about the crab fisheries. They said the same thing as this gentleman over here. When the natives stood up and said, "We are concerned about the crab fishery, because we are at the end of the first year of a three year study, and already we're seeing signs of the crab fishery declining," DFO stood up and said: "I can't accept that, because that's not a scientific approach to it."

We are not scientists, but we know what is going on here. We're not stupid people. We know when the salmon aren't going to return. Our oolichans are part of that cycle. Nobody up here is concerned about it. Why? Because it's of non commercial value, but it means lots to us. It's our medicine; it's our food. I always say this when I travel around and make some speeches out there.

You guys don't know the impact that a lack of oolichans has on first nations, but I put it in this perspective. If we went out and killed all the cows in North America, how would that impact you with your milk, with your butter? That's the only similarity that I could bring to your minds of how it impacts on us.

As time is progressing, people on the reserve here are slowly getting different kinds of sicknesses and ailments that were never prevalent before. The main contributing factor to that is that oolichans have played a vital role to us for thousands of years, and then they stopped coming about eight years ago. And what is the government doing about that?

I would like to see a committee struck and go around to all the villages and all the sites where oolichans historically return. They are part of that cycle, and they are no longer coming here. A lot of first nations see it up and down the coast. We have too much against what is there.

I was a logger for about two years, and I knew the policies. We weren't supposed to log those streams, rivers or creeks. We were. That's one of the primary reasons why I got out of the logging industry – because they did not respect their own policies. We didn't make them up. Somebody else imposed that on us, yet here we were dragging logs through the rivers and streams. Oweekeno was a good example of that. They were logging, taking the logs and running them down through the river, and the sockeye were trying to come up. Who is going to win?

Now you look at the sockeye depletion in Oweekeno. There are no returns like there were before. We'll never get back. We only fool ourselves when we say that we could bring back what was there during the '50s, the '60s and further back. But let's try and salvage what we have today and move forward and learn from our past.

Didn't we learn anything from what happened over on the east coast? Obviously not, because we're sitting here talking about the depletion of salmon and farmed salmon to replace wild stock. We don't need that. As the speaker here said, I'll oppose it, and I'll do everything I can to oppose those farmed salmon. That is the recommendation, suggestion, I want to make to you to take back to the government.

Report on [NON] Sustainable Aquaculture


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