Local elder organized rally against fish farms

A rally to protect wild salmon on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery last week included a contingent from Chilliwack.

A rally to protect wild salmon on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery last week included a contingent from Chilliwack.

Squaw elder Eddie Gardner said he organized the peaceful gathering of “wild salmon warriors” to help push for a province-wide moratorium on open-net salmon farms in the ocean.

“It is hard to believe the lengths they will go to allow business to continue as usual,” he said. “We have to fill the courtroom full of people on Sept. 7 and 8 to ensure the truth gets out.”

Gardner is urging anyone concerned about the future of wild salmon to write letters to newspapers and politicians, or attend the Cohen Commission hearings, on West Georgia Street in Vancouver after the long weekend.

He wrote a letter to B.C. premier Christy Clark last week, asking for her support of wild salmon with a fish-farm clampdown to prevent a “catastrophe” on her watch.

“By supporting a moratorium on licensing open-net fish farms on the oceans, you would take leadership in protecting the wild salmon industry that provides many jobs to British Columbians and is a very vibrant part of the B.C. economy,” Gardner wrote. “It would also mean you would ensure continued support to aboriginal people’s right to fish for salmon that has sustained us since time immemorial.”

Biologist and whale researcher Alexandra Morton told supporters she was thrilled to hear the sound of “wild salmon” songs and drums coming from the rally in the streets below on Tuesday, as Cohen Commission hearings into aquaculture continued.

The aquaculture hearings began on Aug. 25 to look into the possible link between open-net fish farms in the migratory path of salmon, and the sockeye salmon crash of 2009.

Morton is pressing the government hold off on any licensing of new fish farms in the ocean while the federal Cohen Commission is still underway.

The concerted effort “to cover up the marine anemia outbreak that occurred on salmon farms in the Fraser sockeye migratory corridor” is extraordinary, she said.

“Today we hit a low. Honour and truth abandoned. It is a struggle to remain hopeful,” wrote Morton on her blog last week, at http://alexandramorton.typepad.com.

She said that “marine anemia” has been called everything from a virus, a syndrome, to a leading candidate cause of the death of millions of Fraser sockeye.

“If DFO succeeds in disassembling Dr. Kristi Miller’s lab, the truth about this disease, its impact on sockeye and the concern voiced in the 1990s regarding its potential for health concerns will never be revealed,” Morton said.

“If these vets want to tell us all the research done on marine anemia, also called Plasmacytoid Leukemia was wrong, they are going to have to retract the papers they wrote in journals such as Cancer Research, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, The Canadian Veterinary Journal, the Journal of General Virology and Dr. Stephen’s PhD Thesis.”