Commentary by Captain Locky MacLean

On the 24th of August 2017, First Nations wild salmon defenders stepped onto Swanson Island fish farm supported by Sea Shepherd vessel R/V Martin Sheen and began what would be known as the Swanson Occupation.

Fighting not with fists but with truth, brave First Nations members fought for wild salmon and for all living creatures that depend on these keystone fish for survival, from eagles and orcas to bears and the forests themselves.

Ernest Alfred and Karissa Glendale during the 2017 Swanson Occupation, the R/V Martin Sheen in the background

The occupation would last 280 days. Like an Enron or an Enbridge whose glossy veneer began to peel away, the occupation revealed the farmed salmon industry is not as invincible today as it once appeared to be, nor does it add up as a path forward, as it only thrives at the expense of vast quantities of wild fish and habitat, as a commodity.

The fight for wild salmon and First Nations culture, the culture of the salmon people, is a fight the aquaculture industry is calling a lost cause, but the passion, the wisdom and the courage in the air this weekend in Alert Bay summoned a low rumbling foreboding that anything can be achieved with unity and truth.

Mowi (Marine Harvest) accounts for 13 billion$ a year of the salmon farm industry market globally and is making record profits. They speak of industry permanence, that salmon farming is too big to fail. They say for die-hard fighters that still think salmon farming can be stopped, the battle was lost years ago, and the industry is here to stay.

Those who value record salmon runs over record profits, healthy stocks of salmon over stock market highs and First Nations Culture over Aquaculture feed lots, know the true value of wild salmon and traditional culture on the BC coast cannot be quantified.

From court victories to scientific discoveries, legal actions to direct actions, resistance and pressure is being exerted up and down the BC Coast by those who fight to protect coastal waters from fish farm pollution and disease. This careless industry is pulling out all the stops to tread water against the rising tide of outrage.

Being guests inside the Big House in Alert Bay to commemorate Swanson Occupation with so many salmon defenders was uplifting and inspirational and we are grateful to be allies and supporters in the fight for wild salmon. On behalf of our crew, I thank the ‘Namgis First Nation, Chief Ernest Alfred as well as all the courageous protectors who occupied and supported the Swanson Occupation, for their leadership, determination and courage. Thank you for having us in your Big House on this special day in Alert Bay. With strong alliances, courage, truth and unity, we will not stop until the fish farms are out.

#fishfarmsout #salmonaresacred #opvirushunter

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