Saanich South MLA Lana Popham (left) joins anti-salmon farm protest at her constituency office, with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Alexandra Morton and Chief Bob Chamberlin, May 2011. (Don Staniford/Facebook)

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham (left) joins anti-salmon farm protest at her constituency office, with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Alexandra Morton and Chief Bob Chamberlin, May 2011. (Don Staniford/Facebook)

B.C. VIEWS: Myths of our marine environment

MLA Lana Popham a long-time salmon farm protester

Premier John Horgan has tried to calm the storm in the B.C. legislature over salmon farming, personally piloting a lifeboat to rescue floundering Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

After Popham went overboard with reckless actions against salmon farms, Horgan created a cosmetic “review” of a disagreement between a federal fish scientist and her provincial counterpart over “conflict of interest” in their work. Popham surfaced briefly to explain that the review is to determine if there should be an investigation, because there’s no investigation now, despite her Inspector Clouseau-like effort to launch one herself.

Popham falsely claimed there was a federal complaint about data from B.C.’s Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford. This cast doubt on the lab that has handled avian flu and other disease outbreaks of global concern. For this alone, Popham should be removed from the agriculture portfolio.

None of this political comedy-drama means anything to B.C.’s coastal marine environment. But looking deeper into the murky water reveals a few things you should know.

First, Popham has been supporting the U.S.-backed attack on B.C.’s salmon farms since at least 2011. This is the same tireless protest machine that demonizes Canadian pipelines, mines, dams and pretty well everything that resembles industrial development in B.C.

(See more evidence of Popham’s protest activities here and here.)

Demonstrations are often fronted by Stewart Phillip, Grand Chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, who spends many days going from protest to protest. On salmon farm attacks, he is sometimes accompanied by activist-photographer Alexandra Morton, who has lately been promoted by actors Pamela Anderson, Martin Sheen and other misguided millionaires who should instead focus on salmon farms in Washington or ocean-flooding hatcheries in Oregon and Alaska.

Second, the media portrayal of a united front by B.C. Indigenous people against industrial development, and salmon farming in particular, is a carefully staged illusion.

One backer of salmon farming is Dallas Smith, a member of the Tlowitsis Nation, president of the Nanwakolas tribal council on B.C.’s Central Coast and one of the architects of the Great Bear Rainforest agreement. His community hosts three salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago, one of their few sources of year-round employment, particularly for women.

Smith isn’t impressed by a one-man occupation of a fish farm in his region that has gone on since August. He points out that this farm happens to be one of the few with cell service, so the occupier can provide a stream of social media claims to the Pam Andersons and Martin Sheens of the world.

He’s also unimpressed with one of Popham’s protest pals, George Quocksister Jr.

“He’s claiming to be a hereditary chief out of Campbell River, but in the meantime he’s bouncing around our farms in the Broughton Archipelago, which is nowhere near Campbell River, asserting his authority,” Smith told me.

There is a third thing you should know about all this. Morton is an admirer of the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union. Horgan’s chief of staff, Geoff Meggs, was editor of the union’s newspaper The Fisherman for 12 years up to the 1990s, as they lost the struggle to keep Richmond’s industrial salmon canning industry alive.

Today’s anti-salmon farm campaign grew out of the U.S.-backed anti-logging campaigns of the 1990s. They don’t talk about successful efforts by B.C. volunteers and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to restore spawning creeks and rivers damaged by industry and housing development.

And they don’t talk about the most obvious threat to wild salmon, particularly the prized sockeye of the North Pacific. It’s an industry long banned by Norway, Ireland, Scotland and Iceland.

That industry is commercial salmon fishing.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

A small fraction of the people behind the Christmas Hamper Program in 2019. From left to right, Larry Olsson, Patti Larson, Kathleen Hammond and Gladys Dyer. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
In the giving spirit? Here is what you can do this Christmas season

Support Revelstoke Community Connections Christmas programs this year

Okanagan College students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire, both members of the Okanagan Indian Band, raised the Okanagan Nation Alliance flag on July 16, 2019,  outside the Vernon campus. (Karissa Gall photo)
First Nations reconciliation personified at Okanagan College

President Jim Hamilton’s foresight has opened post-secondary education doors for Okanagan College’s Indigenous students

Sunny the cat jumped out of the truck at the Revelstoke Landfill earlier this month and was quickly reunited with his owners. (Submitted)
The cat came back with the help of two Revelstoke landfill workers

Sunny jumped out of the truck at the landfill in November

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Join Rob Dinwoodie and bandmates for a Cowboy Christmas, Dec. 11 and 12 at Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Seating is cabaret style on the stage for an intimate concert. (Contributed)
North Okanagan cowboys go virtual for Christmas

Cowboy Christmas streamed Dec. 11-25

Vernon is getting in the Christmas spirit with many homes decorating with lights and extras. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)
Christmas lights tour mapped out by Vernon realtor

More than 20 of the community’s best lit houses make up annual tradition

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Salmon Arm RCMP say some patrons have been harassing local businesses over mask requirements. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Police urge respect after Salmon Arm businesses report being harassed over mask rules

Wearing of masks in businesses and public spaces is currently mandated by the province

Salmon Arm RCMP officers attended two public COVID-19 demonstrations held in Salmon Arm on Saturday, Nov. 28.  (File photo)
Organizer of Salmon Arm COVID-19 demonstration fined $2,000 by RCMP

Police said some participants weren’t aware of the public health order prohibiting gatherings

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Most Read