Screengrab from a video that Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said was taken using a GoPro at Grieg Seafood’s Barnes Bay fish farm north of Quadra Island on July 27, 2019.

VIDEO: Activists release footage as Pamela Anderson boards fish farm

Industry association accuses group of ‘misinformation’

Activists boarded a fish farm north of Quadra Island on Saturday as part of a “flotilla” protest against open net-pen fish farms.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which organized the protest, said in a statement that actor, model and activist Pamela Anderson used a GoPro camera at the farm and captured video showing “deformed and sick fish in the pens.”

The BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) said those claims were inaccurate and that “it is irresponsible to put out such misinformation.”

Sea Shepherd said that 12 vessels took part in the Saturday protest, while the BCSFA said there were nine. The flotilla was the latest in a polarizing dispute over B.C.’s aquaculture industry.

The protest was originally slated for Cermaq’s Venture Point farm in the Okisollo Channel, but Sea Shepherd said they sailed past it and protested at the Barnes Bay site operated by Grieg Seafood. The company didn’t respond to email queries about the protests by deadline on Monday.

On Saturday morning, Laichwiltach hereditary chief George Quocksister Jr. said farms in the western part of the Okisollo Channel are within unceded Laichwiltach territories and that companies were trespassing in those waters.

Barnes Bay is located north of Quadra Island. Image from Google Maps

Shawn Hall, a spokesperson for the BCSFA, said that salmon farming companies have agreements with many First Nations and that roughly 20 per cent of people working in salmon farming in B.C. are of First Nations heritage. Hall said he couldn’t immediately comment on territorial issues in the Okisollo Channel.

“Relationships with First Nations are important in B.C. salmon farming,” Hall said, adding that more than three-quarters of salmon harvested in B.C. is done in collaboration with First Nations.

He said that boarding fish farms without permission from companies isn’t necessary, and he described the companies as transparent, saying they offer public tours year-round and post data online about their operations, including sea lice levels.

Actor, model and activist Pamela Anderson is shown on Grieg Seafood’s Barnes Bay fish farm north of Quadra Island on July 27, 2019. Photo by Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd said that Anderson used a GoPro camera attached to a pole to record “diseased-looking fish” underwater at the Barnes Bay fish farm operated by Grieg Seafood. She boarded the site with Quocksister, his family and other First Nations people, according to Sea Shepherd.

The group provided video they said shows “deformed fish, fish with large pieces missing from their bodies, as well as fish swimming sluggishly” at the Barnes Bay site.

They said sluggish behaviour “one of the most common symptoms associated to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), a disease caused by a Norwegian virus called piscine reovirus” or PRV.

READ MORE: Cermaq says experimental ‘closed-containment’ fish farm coming to Canadian waters

VIDEO: Mowi launches $30-million vessel to treat farmed salmon for sea lice

Hall said claims about diseased fish at the Barnes Bay site were unfounded, and that “you can’t diagnose a virus with a GoPro camera.” He said the fish were stocked at the farm two weeks ago from a land-based hatchery.

“We don’t put sick fish in the ocean,” he said, adding that the salmon at Barnes Bay were tested tested for PRV and sea lice before being moved to ocean pens and “they had neither.”

He added that “PRV is naturally occurring in our ocean and our fish pick it up in the water, as do wild salmon.”

Asked about the video clip, he said that some fish appeared to have scale damage, although it’s unclear how many distinct fish there are.

“Minor scale loss can occur as a result of handling the fish, but the scales grow back,” he said. “The population of fish in the farm is healthy and growing well.”

Hall also said the “fish were indeed swimming slower, because they had just eaten,” and that “salmon school and swim slower immediately after a meal.”

Anderson and other campaigners said on Saturday that wild juvenile salmon were becoming trapped in fish farms.

“We need wild salmon to be able to make it past these kind of death traps, so they can get out to the ocean and actually feed the orcas,” said the Ladysmith-born Baywatch star shortly after arriving aboard the RV Martin Sheen.

Hall countered that “research tell us that salmon farms are not having a negative impact on wild salmon populations.”

READ MORE: Grieg Seafood invests $2.1 million in ‘feed house’ northwest of Campbell River

READ MORE: Virus found among Atlantic salmon ‘poses minimal risk’ to Fraser River sockeye – DFO

READ MORE: Dissenter from group of scientific experts calls foul on DFO, says effects of fish farm virus ‘extremely uncertain’

Paul Manly, Green Party MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, also took part in Saturday’s protest. He repeated calls from the Green Party for a phasing out of ocean-based open net-pen fish farms and a moratorium on new sites. He said there should be a plan for workers to transition out of the industry and warned about a collapse in wild salmon stocks.

Hall said that farmed salmon represent an important source of food and will take pressure off wild stocks amid growing human populations, citing a study from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

He added that all salmon farmers in B.C. have certification from at least one environmental standards organization.

According to a 2017 study commissioned by the BCSFA, more than 2,900 people were employed directly in salmon farming by 2016 and another 3,600 were employed through industry spinoffs.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vernon Montessori students re-gift to raise funds

Holiday Gift Shop fundraiser supports Project Christmas Elf, teaches sustainability

Sagmoen’s lawyer argues ‘abuse of power’ in police search

The trial of Curtis Sagmoen continued at the Vernon Law Courts on Friday

Vernon’s All Saints Church sets table for less fortunate

Fifth annual Festive Street Lunch will take place at All Saints’ Church tomorrow

Plug pulled on Vernon Light Up

Downtown Vernon Association announces it will no longer co-ordinate the annual event

Campaign to collect backpacks for Vernon’s less fortunate extended

Upper Room Mission has extended its Blessings in a Backpack campaign to Dec. 20

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Best in business: North-Okanagan Shuswap companies named top 10 semi-finalists

Small businesses from Vernon, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Salmon Arm to compete for top spot

Swoop airlines adds three destinations in 2020 – Victoria, Kamloops, San Diego

Low-fair subsidiary of WestJet Airlines brings new destinations in April 2020

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Vernon’s All Saints’ Chruch hosts Lessons and Carols

Sing and learn and enjoy refreshments this Saturday

MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Three amigos take on Trump

Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron talk U.S. president at NATO meeting

Penticton resident allegedly has rear car tires stolen

The resident woke up today to find their back tires missing and their car on blocks

Woman struck, dog killed after collision on Highway 97

Speed is not believed to be a factor and alcohol has been ruled out

Most Read