TREVOR BERGH PHOTO The RCMP arrive at Port Elizabeth fish farm.

RCMP set record straight on role in fish farm dispute in Alert Bay/Port Elizabeth

“At no time did the RCMP escort the vessel into the area.”

The RCMP have issued a press release regarding their involvement in the fish farm protests at Port Elizabeth, stating they are impartial in the dispute and are committed to maintaining the peace between the two parties.

A group of First Nations, who have been calling for the removal of fish farms from their territory, said they would be soon occupying a third Marine Harvest fish farm in Port Elizabeth, which is in the Broughton Archipelago off the coast of North East Vancouver Island.

Their action comes after receiving notice a vessel called the ‘Viktoria Viking’ was spotted transporting smolts, which are juvenile salmon, to the Port Elizabeth fish farm that had previously been an empty site.

“There appears to be erroneous information circulating over the Internet through either news articles or social media that we wish to correct,” wrote Cpl. Janelle Shoihet. “This is in regards to the fish farm demonstration in Alert Bay and the supposed ‘escorting of the Viktoria Viking to the Port Elizabeth site by the RCMP’.”

Shoihet clarified the RCMP is not taking part in the ongoing work being done by the private fish farm company. “At no time did the RCMP escort the vessel into the area. We were made aware that the restocking of fish was to be occurring Oct. 13, and we are also aware there are people who oppose the restocking.”

She added the RCMP are impartial in this dispute, and they “understand and respect the rights of individuals to peacefully demonstrate and we are committed to protecting those rights. At the same time, companies also have a lawful right to complete their mandated work. Our role is to maintain peace and ensure the safety of all those involved, and in order to do so we need to physically be in a position to respond should there be a need for our services – from demonstrators, spectators, fish farm workers and general public.”

Shoihet confirmed the BC RCMP’s Division Liaison Team (DLT) is currently in Alert Bay, and are “ready and available to assist in facilitating safe demonstration, whether on land or water. The team was formed to build relationships and work with interest groups to assist in ensuring safety as they exercise their rights to voice their opinions.”

For more information on the DLT and how to reach them, please visit the RCMP’s website:

http://bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=23&languageId=1&contentId=52682

RELATED: Port Elizabeth fish farm set to be protested by First Nations

RELATED: Premier John Horgan visited Alert Bay to discuss fish farms

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