VANCOUVER- Fish farming company Marine Harvest says the B-C Supreme Court has ordered two Indigenous protesters, who have occupied the company’s houses and dock at Swanson Island for months, to leave by Saturday evening pending an upcoming hearing.
Marine Harvest says the court also ordered them not to board or interfere with any of Marine Harvest’s salmon farms operating in the area.
It says the order is pending a June 25 hearing of an application by Marine Harvest for a broader injunction order.
Court documents filed by Ernest Alfred and Karissa Glendale, who are named as defendants, say they and many others from the ‘Namgis First Nation and surrounding First Nations are opposed to open-net fish farms in ocean waters in their traditional territories.
They say they are legitimately concerned about the impacts the farms have on local fish and sea life.
They say that as local Indigenous people in an area subject to ongoing Aboriginal title litigation, they have the right and responsibility to peacefully witness and observe fish farms and that an injunction sought by the company limiting them from within 20 metres of its fish farms is “overbroad.”
Alfred called the injunction a “small setback” for the occupation, which has been ongoing for 268 days, and said he would respect the law.
“I believe that fish farms will be a stain on our people’s history, and that when we look back at this time, we will celebrate our efforts and we will remind our children and our grandchildren about the time we just about lost our salmon,” Alfred said in an interview.
“I firmly believe that the moment we remove these pens, we relieve the salmon of one their biggest threats.”
Marine Harvest was previously granted an injunction against protesters who were occupying its Midsummer Island salmon farm in December 2017.
Court records say the conditions of adjournment in the current case would be “similar” to those ordered in December 2017.
It says if persons re-occupy any of the sites in the undertaking, the company may reset an application in relation to that activity on
48 hours’ notice.
In a statement, Marine Harvest spokesman Jeremy Dunn says the occupiers are interfering with the company’s “legitimate activities.”
“Meaningful dialogue with First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago, where we have been operating salmon farms for 30 years, remains a priority for Marine Harvest. Unfortunately, our efforts to date have not been successful, but we remain hopeful,” Dunn said in a statement.