Submitted to The Record
Salmon farms on the BC coast have catapulted to the top of the political agenda, as increasing controversy and pressure from wild salmon defenders now dominates the news.
To support awareness at this critical juncture in B.C. coastal history, the Comox Valley chapter of the Council of Canadians will host an encore screening of the 2014 documentary Salmon Confidential on Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. at the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College.
The film was produced by Twyla Roscovich, the young B.C. filmmaker who died earlier this year in Campbell River. Her provocative film follows biologist and coastal icon Alexandra Morton as she tackles the multinational salmon farming industry and contests government science which maintains, despite her evidence to the contrary, that Atlantic salmon farming is safe for the ocean and our food supply.
This official government line, which ignored the warnings of the Cohen Commission, independent scientists and opposed First Nations under the 16-year tenure of the BC Liberals, may be about to change. With the First Nations’ observations of two Marine Harvest operations now entering their third month, the B.C. government has announced a formal investigation into conflict-of-interest allegations at the provincial veterinary lab that audits farmed fish health on contract for the federal government, and which is featured in Salmon Confidential. B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham recently said that “the status quo isn’t good enough” and changes are needed to protect wild salmon stocks on the West Coast.
“The film showcases why First Nations are sounding the alarm about the damage to and the dramatic collapse of their essential food fishery,” says Alice de Wolff, member of the Council’s Comox Valley chapter.
The screening will support First Nations who oppose open-net salmon farms operating in their unceded territorial waters. Donations will go to the ‘Cleansing Our Waters’ observers on Midsummer Island and the ‘Namgis observers on Swanson Island in the Broughton Archipelago.
The Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, ‘Namgis, Lawit’sis and Mamalilkala First Nations oppose corporate fish farming due to such concerns as lack of consent, the spread of disease, effluent and the impact of sea lice on wild migrating salmon. Salmon Confidential provides essential background into the government’s recent decision to investigate the provincial animal health lab that inspects fish raised in these intensive feedlot facilities, which contain thousands of non-native salmon concentrated on threatened wild salmon migration routes.
In concert with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), these First Nations are in discussion with the provincial and federal governments to have their traditional fishery recognized and the fish farming licenses in question not renewed.
The.evening will also honour Twyla Roscovich, the charismatic producer of Salmon Confidential. “The Chapter will make a donation to the scholarship fund established in her memory for young independent filmmakers. Donations will also be accepted from the public,” says de Wolff.
The Kumugwe Dancers will open the evening by welcoming us to the traditional unceded territory of the K’omoks First Nation.
Salmon Confidential, Stan Hagen Theatre, North Island College – Nov. 16, Doors 6:30, Event at 7 p.m.