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James Walkus Fishing Company's MS
James Walkus Fishing Company's MS "Amarissa Joye, owned by Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nations carries out slaughter. Photo: Marine Harvest Canada

Canadian First Nations protesters who have been occupying Marine Harvest's facility at Swanson Island in British Columbia have now left the area for slaughter can continue as normal. "We have given Marine Harvest permission to get the fish out, but there will be reactions if they try to put more fish in," said Ernest Alfred, head of the 'Namgis First Nation.

Ian Roberts, communications manager for Marine Harvest Canada, told kyst.no that one of the 'Namgis First Nation's members was invited to attend and observe the slaughter, together with the employees at the plant.

"We hope that by letting them observe how the plant operates, they will learn more about the techniques used by Marine Harvest, and see that we care about both the fish and the ocean," said Roberts.

Vincent Ernest, managing director of Marine Harvest Canada, stated in a press release that he is pleased to have signed an agreement with the 'Namgis to include them in activities at the plant. He hopes this could lead to better dialogue between the parties.

The harvest operation was observed aboard the James Walkus Fishing Company's MS Amarissa Joye, owned by Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nations.

Ernest Alfred: Will observe and report back to his nation: Photo: Facebook
Ernest Alfred: Will observe and report back to his nation: Photo: Facebook

Protesters told the Vancouver Sun newspaper that even though they have left the farm, they have decided to remain in the occupied cottages nearby. These cabins are owned by Marine Harvest, and Ernest Alfred, head of the 'Namgis First Nation told the newspaper that they are there to keep an eye on the plant.

First step to farm removal

“I have a camera, a GoPro, a radio and safety equipment so I can observe and report back to my nation,” Alfred told the Vancouver Sun. “We’ve never seen some of these techniques before and we will post them for the public to see.”

Alfred also stated that they have only left the area to allow the slaughter to be carried out as normal, which they regard as the first step in the process of completely removing the plant.

“We have said all along that we will allow Marine Harvest to take salmon out of the site, but we will not allow any more salmon to come in,” Alfred said.

Three protesters who are probably members of the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, have remained at Marine Harvest's neighbouring Midsummer Island plant. The company has again asked them to leave the area for safety reasons and has not received any response to request for meeting with the leaders of this tribe, as it did at Swanson Island.