A salmon farm 50 kilometers east of Port Hardy has asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to remove First Nations protesters from its farm in the Broughton Archipelago.
The company, Marine Harvest Canada, says its Midsummer Island farm had delayed work in hopes of having discussions with the protesters.
Ian Roberts, a spokesperson for the company cited concerns for both the welfare of the fish, and safety of staff and protesters.
“We were hoping for discussions with these First Nations people that have issues with our business, but to date they’ve granted no meeting whatsoever,” said Roberts. “We’ve asked them to leave numerous times. Last week we demanded that they leave and given that they didn’t leave our workspace, we’ve had to officially make application for a court order.”
Molina Dawson, a protester with the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, said the group is concerned about what impact fish farms are having on wild salmon in the area.
“Our culture is very much intertwined and reliant upon having these salmon and the rest of our wildlife. If we lose the salmon, we lose a huge part of our culture,” said Dawson. “We’ve done nothing wrong…we’ve tried to make sure everyone who comes on the farm is respectful. We haven’t broken any laws. We’re here respectfully.”
Marine Harvest said in a statement that its current tenure licenses were granted in 2013 following five years of consultation with several First Nations with interests in the area. The licences are said to be valid until June 2018.
Roberts stated that Marine Harvest believes in the importance of discussions with First Nations. Structures are said to now have been built on the facilities narrow walkways, making it difficult for employees to do their work.
Dawson said that it does not make sense for the company to kick First Nations people off their traditional territory, and that they had never given the industry consent to operate in the waters.
A hearing for the injunction is set for Tuesday morning.
With files from the Canadian Press