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Mining harms wild salmon

The Wild Salmon Delegation came to Norway to campaign against Cermaq’s open-net pen feedlots in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. But as the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations saying goes, hišukiš c̓aawaak—everything is connected.

Yesterday I found myself sitting inside an indigenous Sami lavvu (a teepee-like traditional dwelling) with Ahousaht First Nations citizen John Rampanen. Imagine our surprise to learn that the reindeer herder with us had heard about Imperial Metals’ 2014 Mount Polley mine disaster back in British Columbia! It was one of the biggest mining disasters in Canadian history, spilling many millions of cubic metres of toxic water and tailings into Quesnel Lake, home to one quarter of the Fraser River sockeye salmon.

This week Clayoquot Action will be attending a major wild salmon conference here in Alta, Norway, the salmon sports fishing capital of the world. Most of the discussion will be around salmon farming, and the harm it causes wild salmon: diseases, sea lice, and escapes. But there will be one session on the proposed ocean dumping of mine tailings in a nearby fjord called Repparfjorden.

Repparfjorden copper mine proposal
Repparfjorden is close to major wild salmon rivers. In 2015, municipal and national authorities approved plans to dump up to two million tons of toxic tailings from a planned copper mine into the fjord—annually, for fifteen years.

Hundreds of people are willing to engage in civil disobedience to protest this atrocity. This will sound familiar to readers from BC—Imperial Metals has proposed an open-pit copper mine on Catface Mountain in Ahousaht First Nations territory. Although Imperial has not been forthcoming with precise plans for Catface, they would most likely build an earthen dam to store tailings—just like the one that burst at Mount Polley…

Storage of mine tailings is becoming a problem globally, because most of the best ore bodies on the planet have already been mined out. New mines typically target much lower grades, which means more leftover waste rock—toxic tailings.

Failures of tailings dams are on the increase around the world, because the containment dams are being built much higher to contain the larger quantities of tailings. Since Mount Polley we have seen massive failures in places such as the Samarco Iron Mine in Brazil, and the Gold King Mine in Colorado.

Enter the Wilderness Committee
One of the hardest parts of Clayoquot Action’s trip to Mount Polley in 2014, just weeks after the catastrophe, was witnessing the human impact. Local First Nations and residents were devastated, unable to drink the water, eat the salmon, and unsure of the future of the home they love so much. I made a promise to new friends there that I would not forget, and would do my best to ensure that some of BC’s larger environmental groups would do something about Mount Polley.

Last spring Bonny & I finally got to sit down with Joe Foy, National Campaigns director for the Wilderness Committee in Vancouver. We told him of our experience at Mount Polley, and asked him what he could do to help. One of the things I truly appreciate about the Wilderness Committee is that they understand how to work with local communities. By the end of the hour, they had decided to begin an educational campaign on the risks posed to British Columbia by unsafe mining practices.

The resulting publication was released last week and can be viewed here. They also produced a short video which looks at the risks associated with mining in the Fraser River, one of the greatest wild salmon watersheds in the world—check it out! Please take a moment to send a letter to BC’s Premier asking her to clean up BC’s mining industry.

Tore Bongo and the Alta Controversy
Yesterday was Sami National Day in Scandinavia. At the Alta celebration we met Tore Bongo, one of the leaders of the Alta Controversy—a major nonviolent campaign against a hydro dam in the 70s and 80s. He is prepared to be arrested again, along with many youth, if the Repparfjorden mine plans go ahead.

We are meeting many Sami indigenous people who work to protect their lands and waters, and to protect their right to practice their traditional cultures—just like back home. We look forward to working together across the oceans to protect Mother Earth!

Dan Lewis is in Norway with Clayoquot Action’s Wild Salmon Delegation.

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Wild salmon of Oslo

The magic begins once you’re underway. You can’t plan for it, but you can prepare. I know this from personal experience, having been on several overseas environmental delegations to Japan and Germany in years past. It is no different this time with the Wild Salmon Delegation to Norway.

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I was pleasantly surprised when our new friend Martin invited us to view spawning wild salmon in the heart of Oslo this morning. Continue reading

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On to Norway!

Clayoquot Action will be travelling to Norway this January to put pressure on Norwegian salmon farming giant Cermaq. We’ll deliver a clear message: get your polluting fish farms out of the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound!

The team: Bonny Glambeck & Dan Lewis from Clayoquot Action and John Rampanen from Ahousaht and Kelsemaht First Nations. You can help send us north of the Arctic Circle to Alta, to attend a wild salmon conference where we’ll meet with the President of the indigenous Sami Parliament and build alliances with the cutting edge of Norway’s wild salmon movement. Then on to Bergen, the global capital of salmon farming, to meet Norwegians working to get salmon farms out of Norway’s waters, and to the capital of Norway to deliver a petition from Alexandra Morton asking Norway to divest from dirty salmon farming companies. Continue reading

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Ahousaht logging moratorium

On October 28, the ʔaahuusʔatḥ ḥawiiḥ (hereditary chiefs of Ahousaht) announced a moratorium on industrial scale logging in their ḥaaḥuułi (traditional territory), effective immediately.

There are two main Tree Farm Licenses in the area, TFL 54 and 57. Over the past 20 years the logging of ancient rainforests within these TFLs has often created conflicts with Ahousaht traditional values, and with recognized conservation interests. Tyee Ḥawiiḥ Maquinna (Lewis George) announced that “the end has come to the large scale logging operations of the past that leave much to be desired in the way of long lasting environmental footprint and very little community benefit”. Continue reading

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Unprecedented fish farm win!

A meteor shot thru the pre-dawn sky, burning longer than any I’ve ever witnessed. Was it a sign that something was about to happen?

We were up early to head north to Ahousaht territory to witness the removal of Cermaq’s new fish farm from a place called Yaakswiis, on the shore of Flores Island. The facility had been occupied by members of Ahousaht First Nations for 13 days, until the company finally agreed to remove the floats—at first light on Monday, September 21. Continue reading

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First Nations occupy Clayoquot Sound salmon farm

Heading north from Tofino towards Hot Springs Cove, you pass by Flores Island, home to the Ahousaht First Nations. The island is breathtakingly beautiful—rounded mountains covered in ancient rainforests sweep down to white sand beaches with surf rolling in.

Cermaq, a Norwegian-based salmon farming company (recently purchased by Mitsubishi) was granted permits this summer to install a new salmon farm on the eastern shore of Flores Island, their 16th site in Clayoquot Sound.

The contentious new farm was assembled off-site, an unusual move indicating that Cermaq was expecting resistance. When Cermaq towed the assembled pens to the Yaakswiis site on Wednesday they were met by members of Ahousaht First Nations who do not want salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound. Continue reading

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New salmon farm approved in Clayoquot Sound

On the Friday afternoon before the BC Day weekend, the government attempted to bury the news that a new salmon farm had been approved in Clayoquot Sound. Three other new farms were also approved for northern Vancouver Island.

The license was issued to Cermaq, a Norwegian-based company belonging to Mitsubishi. If installation is completed, the new feedlot would be located along the shores of Flores Island (pictured below), in Ahousaht First Nations territory. Flores Island is cloaked in intact ancient cedar rainforest, with many creeks supporting runs of wild salmon. Continue reading

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Still logging Clayoquot Sound

I never expected to end up in maximum security prison when I moved to Tofino in 1988. I had just finished my fourth season of tree planting—I knew what would happen to Clayoquot Sound’s rainforest if something didn’t change, soon. People often ask what brought me to Tofino. “My Volkswagen van,” I quip, but really it was the big trees, which I had fallen in love with as a teenager back in 1979. Continue reading

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Who’s Knocking?

Before the dust had even settled on the Mount Polley Mine disaster, owner Imperial Metals was active again in Clayoquot Sound. This finding was published in Who’s Knocking?, a report on mineral tenures in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The report, by Clayoquot Action in partnership with the Fair Mining Collaborative, details who is looking for minerals in Clayoquot Sound, and what types of minerals they are looking for. Continue reading

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Hummingbirds—yes we can!

John Snyder is President of the CoalWatch Comox Valley Society

Compliance Coal’s withdrawal of their latest Application for the proposed Raven Coal Mine Project from the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s evaluation screening process is a significant setback for Compliance, and a victory for those who have opposed this ill-advised project for more than 5 years.

The Raven Coal Mine Project planned to build and operate an underground coal mine only 5 kilometres from Fanny Bay and Baynes Sound on the east side of Vancouver Island and ship the processed coal by truck to a proposed coal port in Port Alberni on the west side of Vancouver Island. Continue reading