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.
The Ahousahts prevented Cermaq from anchoring the pens, and have peacefully occupied the farm.
Lennie John, the first person to step onto the floats said “I am fighting to get the fish farms out of our water and we are not going anywhere until they are gone for good”.
The Ahousaht Fish Farm Committee strongly opposed any fish farms at the Yaakswiis location, due to concerns about proximity to rich seafood resources such as clam beds and wild salmon rivers.
The Yaakswiis Occupiers issued a statement outlining their demands, which include “assurance in writing from the Hawiih (hereditary chiefs), Band Council, and Cermaq that this farm location at Yaakswiis is off the table for time immemorial… and that there is a moratorium on any new farms”.
Check out CTV’s coverage.
On Wednesday September 23, Clayoquot Action is hosting Take a Stand for Wild Salmon featuring Dr. Alexandra Morton and John Rampanen from Ahousaht First Nations in Tofino. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!