As people from the Broughton Archipelago, where the crimes occurred, Alert Bay, Sointula, and Port Hardy looked on Marine Harvest pleaded guilty to charges related to illegal possession of wild fish. Marine Harvest made the unprecedented move to avert the 4 - day trail that had been scheduled.
At issue were juvenile pink salmon, almost certainly from Glendale River that ended up falling out of a huge bucket moving Atlantic salmon broodstock into a truck and 3cm herring that ended up in the farm salmon dump in Beaver Cove.
While flawed in many ways, this case made history twice over. It was the first time a private prosecution has ever been taken over and run by the Department of Justice to its conclusion and it is the first time the Norwegian salmon farming industry has been charged for taking wild fish.
With no obvious way out, Marine Harvest, represented by the BC Salmon Farmer lawyer in the Cohen Inquiry Alan Blair, pleaded guilty to a portion of the charge... the part about releasing the herring in the wrong place - that the fish were picked up at Arrow Pass and released at Midsummer. We heard the little herring all went back into the sea and a few of the larger herring were accidentally tossed into the pen with the Atlantic salmon.
This is not the way I heard it from Marine Harvest back in October 2009. Standing on a dock in Beaver Cove, Robert Mountain and I heard a Marine Harvest employee tell us that the smaller herring fell through a sorting grid and were put in totes and dumped in the farm salmon dump in Beaver Cove. We heard this when, tipped by a fish farmer disgusted by the situation contacted me, we went looking for them in the dump. We were met only by steaming piles of freshly turned bark and rotten fish.
At 3cm the herring were almost certainly from Kingcome Inlet - a herring stock still in trouble that has not been fished for 20 years.
However..... now that Marine Harvest has received a warning - for having the pinks in June 2009, and have been found guilty of having the herring in October 2009, if they are caught with illegal wild fish again the offence rises. DFO asks that we "observe, record, report" so please do so if you see wild fish dying in industrial salmon farming operations. No one in BC is allowed to take fish without a licence.
The fine is $5,000 which is big compared to similar crimes.
I would like to thank Todd Gerhart of the Department of Justice for taking this all the way.
Chief Bob "O'wadi" Chamberlin of one of the Broughton Tribes had this to say today:
Marine Harvest convicted and fined for "incidental catch" of Wild Salmon smolts & Herring. DFO "missed" this in their monitoring of this Industry. I am not a statitician... But I believe it highly improbable, if not impossible, that this was the 1st & only time incidental catch occurred. Which points to monitoring gaps within the regulations, license conditions and operational policies.
Sea Lice impacts on Wild Salmon, Disease impacts on Wild Salmon, Incidental catch of Wild Salmon smolts, Herring "tonnage" as incidental catch..... Low Wild Salmon & Herring stock numbers! We need to establish our own Monitoring and Wild species protection measures.
In all seriousness, Whomever isn't for us...is against us. Take stock of those who particpate as FN's in this industry in "our territory." I fail to see how this is respectful of us as Musgamagw-Tsawataineuk peoples choices for "our territory"
Strong words for a peaceful leader.
The New York Times did what I was not allowed to do - tell you there has been a second diagnosis of Infectious Salmon Anemia virus in wild BC salmon, this time in the Fraser River itself, the biggest wild salmon river in the world.
Infectious Salmon Anemia virus has been found in two young sockeye salmon. Sheer reckless, negligent behaviour has loosed a highly infectious fish farm influenza virus into the North Pacific. I have been told over and over by industry and government that this could not happen, but they were wrong.
Last Friday, October 7, Justice Cohen ruled, against the objection by the lawyers for Canada and the Province of BC, to allow my report to become an Exhibit of the Cohen Commission. So I can now share it with you.
Dear Premier Clark:
Salmon farms are dumping all their pathogens into public waters. When the Provincial government of BC cited salmon farms on the Fraser sockeye migration route in 1992, the Fraser sockeye began declining one generation later. DFO scientist Dr. Kristi Miller, told the Cohen Inquiry last week that a virus is infecting, weakening and killing 100,000,000s of Fraser sockeye and the evidence suggests it began infecting the sockeye in 1996.
Dr. Miller is not allowed to speak to the media, she was flanked by guards at the hearing and her funding has been cut.
On August 26, Justice Cohen made the BC provincial salmon farm disease records the only Exhibit out of 1,534 Exhibits - not available to the public.
The lawyer for the Province of BC argued this was in the public good.
Premier Clark, I would like to know your position on this decision.
Wild Salmon Rally - Vancouver Art Gallery, 12:30-2:00 August 30, Tuesday events
10- 4pm be there if you don't feel good about secret viruses in wild salmon
Over the years, starting in earnest with the Kemano Completion Project fight in 1993, I’ve been highly critical of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and its politicization by the Mulroney government of that day.