starving grizzly bear

Keep the Liberals to their promise

In Alaska—where open-net pen salmon farms have never been permitted—salmon harvests are some of the largest on record this year.  

Meanwhile, just over the border in BC, wild salmon numbers are crashing. Shocking images of emaciated grizzly bears are making waves in international news media. Bears depend on wild salmon to fatten up for winter.

Yellow wild salmon are showing up across the BC coast.  Pacific salmon infected with the piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) are known to turn yellow, and PRV is widespread in farmed salmon.

On October 4th, during the federal election when there was no sitting Minister of Fisheries, the Department of Fisheries (DFO) made a decision around testing for PRV in response to two court rulings to revise their PRV policy. The Department of Fisheries is deeply divided on the issue of PRV. Some of their scientists believe that PRV is endemic to BC, and harmless.

Others at DFO can see the evidence that PRV is from the Atlantic Ocean, and has now become ubiquitous in BC farmed salmon. A study published in 2018 reported that PRV behaves differently in Pacific Chinook salmon than Atlantic salmon—it causes their red blood cells to explode, leading to liver failure and jaundice!

Keeping DFO to their word

The outcome? The Department decided to test only for the ‘BC strain’ of PRV. DFO scientists disagree whether a BC strain of PRV exists. PRV comes from Norway, and Clayoquot Action’s testing of salmon farms in Clayoquot Sound is showing that the PRV present on Clayoquot fish farms is the Atlantic PRV1a sequence variant.

In 2018 the state of Washington, immediately to the south of BC, banned open-net pen salmon farms from their waters by 2025. In the interim period, they are not allowing salmon infected with PRV to be put into the water. They have ordered that 1.8 million farm fish be destroyed rather than put their wild salmon at risk…

There are two important reasons why we should not allow PRV-infected salmon into BC open-net pens:

1) salmon farms amplify viruses and broadcast them to the surrounding environment, and

2) salmon farms allow the virus to breed, mutate, and become more virulent—as happened in Norway.

Wild salmon are in crisis in British Columbia, and it is past time for all levels of government to act. In Canada, three of the four major political parties are calling for salmon farms to be removed from coastal waters. The charge was led by the federal New Democrat Party (NDP), followed by the Green Party. During the recent federal election, the Liberal Party promised “to develop a responsible plan to transition from open-net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025.”.

With two major sea lice epidemics in Clayoquot Sound in the last two years, time is running out for wild salmon. Pesticide use, uncontrollable sea lice numbers, and viral outbreaks are a fatal brew which wild salmon clearly will not survive.

Take Action

Now more than ever is the time to rally for wild salmon. Please take a moment to sign our online petition asking Trudeau to keep his promise: salmonpeople.ca/remove-all-fish-farms . Take a stand for wild salmon today!

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

Photo: Rolf Hicker Photography www.vancouverislandtours.info

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”.

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.

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.

Busted on Burnaby Mountain!

My heart was pounding as I took the microphone to speak to the crowd of two hundred rallied at the foot of Burnaby Mountain. Not because I was nervous about speaking, but because of the great emotion welling up inside of me—I was about to be arrested.

Arrested for something that has weighed heavily on my heart and mind for decades—the climate crisis. This is an overwhelmingly huge issue, one that is hard to get a handle on, hard to act on. We all do what we can, but at the end of the day systemic changes are needed to overcome the most pressing challenge of our time.

Salmon farm expansion in Clayoquot Sound

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.

2 more salmon farms in Clayoquot?
Cermaq Canada, a Norwegian-owned company, has applied for 2 new salmon feedlots in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There are already 21 feedlot sites in Clayoquot.

The new feedlots would be located in Ahousaht First Nations’ territories, one in Millar Channel (on the route to Hot Springs Cove), and one in Herbert Inlet (close to the unlogged Moyeha River which has been protected since 1911 in Strathcona Park).

Clayoquot Summer 1993 mass protest. Mark Hobson photo.

Clayoquot Summer 20 Years After—Part 2

Radical U

Was Clayoquot Summer worth all the effort? The Peace Camp in 1993 was a glimpse at an alternative to corporate control of our world—direct democracy. It was a radical university, empowering over ten thousand people with the techniques of peaceful direct action and consensus decision-making.

Jennifer Abbot, director of The Corporation stated in the 2006 film Clayoquot Sound Resistance and Renewal “I actually did feel that 300 people reached consensus, which was quite shocking. I’d never experienced that in my life. It was to me a model of consensus-building that I’ll never forget”.

Today the name Clayoquot has become synonymous with mass peaceful protest. Just as Clayoquot Summer found its roots in the civil rights movement, it is now part of one river that flows through movements such as Occupy Wall Street. The Enbridge resistance threatens to become the next “Clayoquot” according to media pundits.

Was Clayoquot Summer successful?

The arrests were largely symbolic. Most days the loggers eventually got through. However, temperate rainforests were put on the map as an important conservation issue alongside tropical rainforests such as the Amazon. And the cumulative results had a huge impact on logging here in Clayoquot Sound.

Clayoquot Summer 20 Years After

Clayoquot Summer: 20 years after

The roots of Clayoquot Summer

Twenty-five years ago Tofino residents and Nuu-chah-nulth locals stood together in Sulphur Pass to prevent a road from being punched into the wildlands of northern Clayoquot Sound. The theme song of the blockade became Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning. Campfire circles led to wild fantasies of the Oil playing live on the road, shutting the company down.

Fast-forward five years to Clayoquot Summer 1993, the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Midnight Oil played a show at the Peace Camp on a stage made of charred timbers from the Black Hole clearcut, with David Suzuki boogying down in the front row. Meanwhile hundreds of people, feeling their collective power, chose to remain seated on the road, and the loggers never did get through that day.

How did this happen? The answer is simple: we organized. Inspired by Redwood Summer in California (which was in turn inspired by Mississippi Summer, part of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s), we decided to focus on organizing mass protests.

Meares Island Big Tree Trail near Tofino

Lights, Camera, Clayoquot Action!

Clayoquot Action was stoked to host and coordinate logistics for filmmakers Jacob Wise and Rebecca Billings from Ithaca, New York. The pair are working to create two feature-length documentaries about the ancient rainforests of Vancouver Island.

The first film will be an investigative piece about the rainforest and associated environmental issues. The second will be a nonverbal documentary that evokes the wonder and beauty of this sadly endangered environment. The two films will work as companion pieces to each other.

In March, they spent 17 days on Vancouver Island gathering footage, and are currently back to complete the task. While in Tofino they were able to join a traditional dugout canoe tour with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations member Tsimka Martin. They also attended Clayoquot Action’s Clayoquot Summer 20 Years After presentation, joined a whale watching tour, and got to fly over Clayoquot Sound on a classically beautiful summer day!