Category: Wild Salmon

A Victory in the Discovery Islands for Wild Salmon

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Above: Drummers lead by Eddie Gardner from the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance joined with the UCV Wild Salmon Action Team to engage in street theatre outside the offices of the DFO in downtown Vancouver. They were part of a broader province-wide coalition, this September, calling for the end to fish farms in the Discovery Islands.

A victory for wild salmon. Trudeau government to phase out fish farms in the Discovery Islands by June 2022

On December 17, 2020, the UCV Wild Salmon Action Team (WSAT) celebrated the federal government’s announcement of their decision to remove fish farms from the Discovery Islands.

The Discovery Islands channels is an area known to be a bottleneck area for migrating wild salmon and one of the worst places to put open-net pen salmon farms with their increasingly poor control over lice infestations and virus infections. The Cohen commission had been set up in 2012 when the Fraser River sockeye return fell to 3 million. In 2020 that number plummeted to less than 300,000 which resulted in unprecedented solidarity from over 100 First Nations, sport and commercial fishermen, tourism operators, and several environmental organizations calling for the total removal of the Discovery Island fish farms. On December 17, the government agreed.

The WSAT can claim a small part of that decision, perhaps by being an annoying sliver in the feet of the decision makers, (WSAT had been meeting and petitioning MPs and MLAs for months,) or by adding our bodies and loonies to support other wild salmon protection groups. The day before the December announcement, WSAT met with MP Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and even though they knew the decision had already been made, added their voice to the chorus of demands for change. As well, they submitted information for the 2021 consultation meetings listing their demands that the remaining 100+ fish farms be taken out of all West Coast waters and be put on land, that scientists with research that disagreed with Industry publications be heard, and that Indigenous groups from the top of Vancouver Island to the headwaters of the Fraser River lead the planning and management of the wild salmon stocks.

WSAT is mulling over future actions which include public education, divestment campaigns, and working with Indigenous and local groups.


When fish farms are removed we find healthy juvenile salmon and a chance for wild salmon to rebound.

In April 2020, biologist Alexandra Morton found juvenile salmon free of sea lice leaving the Broughton Archipelago less than a year after just two fish farms in the area were removed by First Nations.


Below: April 2020, healthy juvenile salmon in the Broughton Archipelago

Below: Juvenile chum salmon in Nootka Sound infected with sea lice

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Below: Sea lice infected juvenile salmon collected near the Discovery Islands in May and June of 2020

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Photo credit: Tavish Campbell — Tavish is a colleague of biologist Alexandra Morton. His film Blood Water, an exposé on the dumping of blood from farmed Atlantic salmon into Discovery Passage and Clayquot Sound, sparked a CBC investigation and a BC government audit of 28 fish processing plants.

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Wild Salmon Rallies and Street Theatre — Sept 2020

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Above: Rally and street theatre outside the offices of the DFO in downtown Vancouver calling for an end to fish farms in the Discovery Islands

From the constituency office of Liberal MP Terry Beech, to a Wild Salmon Die-in outside the DFO, the Wild Salmon Action Team joined a call by one hundred and one BC First Nations to remove fish farms in the Discovery Islands

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Good (Non-Covid) News from the Wild Salmon Action Team

No fish farms, no sea lice!

As this video by Alexandra Morton shows, when floating-net fish farms are removed from BC coastal waters, wild juvenile salmon leaving those locations have no lice. Healthy juvenile salmon and a chance for wild salmon to rebound!

The Wild Salmon Action Team, a subcommittee of the Environment Team, was formed in 2018 to support coastal Indigenous groups fighting to remove salmon farms from their waters. The fish farms were introducing dangerous levels of bacteria, viruses, and sea lice into the waters directly in the path of migrating juvenile wild salmon. While logging and over-fishing have been detrimental to wild salmon in the past, and climate change is now the government’s explanation for record lows in salmon populations, the one obvious stressor that can be changed RIGHT NOW is to move fish farms out of the path of migrating wild salmon and preferably out of the ocean onto land. The Wild Salmon Action team has held fundraisers and educational forums to support Indigenous and environmental groups in these demands. Since  2019 we have also been working with MPs and MLAs to get the fish farms out of the water before 2025.


Above: Juvenile salmon free of sea lice, Broughton Archipelago, April 2020

The removal of two fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago last summer and the findings of healthy wild juvenile salmon this spring shows us that the scientists and First Nations were right all along. As Jane Goodall said; “Mother Nature can heal. We just have to give her a chance”.


Save Our Salmon letter writing campaign

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Above: SOS letter writing table at Hewett Hall this Spring, April 2018

The Environment Committee started the Save Our Salmon (SOS) letter writing campaign as a direct result of the great success of the Feb. 16, 2018 Wild Salmon Information and fundraiser event. (Watch the event here.)

Provincial tenures (leases) for 22 open net-pen salmon farms come up for renewal this June; 20 of them are in the Broughton Archipelago and are opposed by First Nations. The peer-reviewed science is very clear and unequivocal – BC fish farms severely threaten the health and survival of our wild salmon. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington ban fish farms; BC should also.

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Ask The Salmon Lady! All You Want to Know About Fish Farms in BC


After the Wild Salmon Event last week we received your emails. Salmon Lady is here to answer your questions.


Dear Salmon Lady,

A bunch of us were invited to the Wild Salmon Event last week and the music and speakers were great but we still don’t get what’s wrong with farmed salmon.  I mean, I consider myself pretty green—I recycle and drive a compact car but I am busy juggling two jobs, a family and a house. Sometimes I want to grab some sushi or throw a slab of salmon on the grill. If it’s cheap and tastes good, what is wrong with that?

(signed) Basically A Little Klueless


  Warning! Upsetting images depicting cruelty to farmed salmon


Helpful Links:

News from the Wild Salmon Action Team (WSAT)
Chief Alfred Ernest on Facebook
Chief Willie Moon and Julia Smith-McIntyre, Fish Farms Get Out
Alexandra Morton on TypePad
Alexandra Morton on Facebook
Fish Farms in the Broughton Archipelago are Wrong — by David Suzuki and Jay Ritchlin

Educational Event Raises $8300 for Wild Salmon

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Above second from right: Guest speaker Ernest Alfred elected band counsellor and a teacher for Indigenous language and culture from Alert Bay, descending from the ‘Namgis, Mamalilikala and Tawit’sis First Nations

February 16, 2018

An educational event on wild salmon was held, February 16, at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver on unceded Musqueam land. More than $8300 was raised to support wild salmon and coastal First Nations calling for the urgent removal of open-net fish farms. Importantly, we also raised awareness, inspiration, hope, knowledge and commitment – to do more.

The evening began with an entrance into the Sanctuary following traditional coastal First Nations protocol. Visitors declare who they are and request permission to land (or enter) the territory of their host. Cecilia Point representing the Musqueam First Nation welcomed the visitors with drumming and song. She then lead the visitors in a grand procession to the front of the chapel.

Speakers for the evening were Cecilia Point, Ernest Alfred, Julia McIntyre-Smith and Dr. David Suzuki. Musical entertainment by Barry Truter, Michael Averill and the Re:Sisters. The entire evening was recorded and well worth watching more than once.

You’ll find event highlights below, with photos and bios of speakers and musicians. Thank you to all !

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Save the Wild Salmon – What Can We Do to Help?

by Tamiko Suzuki

Above: Spawning wild salmon

The Environment Team is proud to sponsor an evening of education and fundraising  where we will hear from Indigenous leaders working to remove open-net fish farms from their waters. Julia McIntyre-Smith and Chiefs Ernest Alfred and Willie Moon will speak of the relationship between the wild salmon, the environment and their Indigenous communities. Dr. David Suzuki will talk of the science linking fish farms to the decrease in wild stocks.

This will be a powerful, moving evening and you will come away with new appreciation for the imperiled wild salmon and the Peoples whose cultures they are so entwined with.

The talk will be held in the Sanctuary, followed by refreshments and a silent auction in Hewett Hall.

There you will also find tables set aside to brain storm ways to further help the wild salmon defenders.

We will post here decisions made to carry on this initiative.

Julia McIntyre-Smith’s Youtube Channel

Entry by donation (suggested $20)

Doors open to the Sanctuary at 6:30pm. Feb. 16, 2018