INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT - Daryl Campbell and Rod Sam

Daryl Campbell and Rod Sam are Ahousat Fishermen in British Columbia.


Daryl, what do you think of the potential of salmon aquaculture? Is it a plus or a minus for your community?

It was a minus in the beginning because of the way they practiced it. To date, there still aren't any changes in it other than the amount of jobs created by it in our community, and that's a plus to us. In a sense, there haven't been a whole lot of studies done by the government, within our traditional territory. We made that comment to the government numerous times and the problem with the Lubbock was to try to come to some kind of conclusion with the studies done, and basically we said no to them back then. The drive of it all was the environmental issues. What's key and foremost is the environment because it ties up so many of our resources, our aquatic resources. We live off fish, fowl, bottom fish, and have a lot of pelagic species we need. Yet, we need salmon, cod, and stuff like that.

Is one of your concerns, environmentally, the impact that the salmon farming might have on the wild catch of your fisheries, that your community also depends on?

Yes, the disease-transfer, which is tied into a lot of the food chain. We have herring that goes through these nets; we got the fry that emerge that swim out that go through these nets. They blame the wild salmon for the disease sockeye, but we don't have the sockeye in our systems. That is what is probably the most key in the disease transfer in our aquatic rivers; we still thrive on a lot of it.

Rod, would you agree with Daryl about fish farming and is it a good thing or a bad thing for your community?

The fish farms, overall, are just an infringement of our aboriginal rights, under Section 35-1 of the Constitution and, not only that, but the impact that they have to the environment. As mentioned earlier by Daryl, whether it is salmon, ducks, clams, or particularly seals, we utilize these species. To date, there have been no studies in our traditional territory to address our issues on fish farmers impacting our food and gathering areas. There are a lot of unknowns out there. Our people are afraid to gather these species whether it is clams, ducks, or fish, around fish farms, because of all the unknowns.

We don't know when they're using antibiotics, and things like that, that are infringing on our aboriginal rights. Overall its hindering us and making us go to different areas to gather these species, now. They have cleaned up since we've been dealing with them. The sites themselves, in the beginning, were basically a big mess. With Daryl and his crew being out there, they let the industry know that they've got junk, things floating around that shouldn't be. They have morts, with their lids open and seagulls getting at them and that in itself is negative. We go out there now, knowing that seagulls are at these sites going back and laying their eggs.

We don't know what they're eating, whether it has antibiotics or another disease, there's just too much unknown out there. On the positive side, I'd mention there are some jobs that have come along with it. This agreement, this protocol that we have signed just recently, is giving Ahousat more of a say as to how industry is operated within our territory. It wasn't an agreement with government or whether it is provincial or an agreement with industry and Ahousat. We need to work on it yet a lot, and make it a working agreement, basically. There's a lot more that needs to be done yet to address the negative aspects of farming. Maybe with green technologies, whether it be closed containment systems, or even land based operations.

What about these alternate systems?

We were pushing for green technologies to be done within our area because of the systems that we've seen. Future Sea had the closed containment that would address a majority of our concerns. It wouldn't address them all, but to address the waste, the gathering of the waste, and disposal of morts. Industry has told us that it's going to cost too much and we throw back a question at them, "what is it going to save you," in regards to algae blooms that have been known to happen in our area. It would also prevent predatory attacks from seals and bears.

It can go a long way, we just need to look at these green technologies and utilize them in our area to address our concerns. I know it can be done. There's a place in Cedar that's land-based that reported in the paper that they hope to be making a profit within four years. If you look at this system, a lot of it is feasible, and they're proving that it is feasible. It's going to take a while because industry's hesitant, yet at this point in time, considering capital costs, what they throw at us is that it costs too much. We throw that question back, "well, what's it going to save you?"

Daryl, sounds like you've been after the industry to clean up their act at certain sites. It sounds like you've made some progress.

It's like Rod said, we have footage of the old pen system that was just allowed to drift ashore on our beaches. Since then, it's kind of cleaned up. They used to have nets lying all over and pen systems, and bags all over the beach. They've cleaned up quite a bit; they've put a few dollars into cleaning it up. Through this agreement we've signed too, we do have a say now. It's been ceded before because it's the first time our chiefs are actually recognized for ownership of their territory.

It's not for me; it's for my children, their children and their children. It's to preserve the aquatic resources we practice utilizing today. We're striving for our grandkids to have certainty for that. I have the luxury of having all of that; my family and I want to see that for my grandkids and their kids, too. That's why we've fought so hard, because we're starting to find that a lot of our people are turning to the aquatic resources. That's one of the reasons they start paying up, because we actually have footage of what used to be and what is now.

We've come a long way, we used to be yelling and whatnot at each other, now we can actually sit at the same table and crack a few jokes. That's positive to us, and we've got to mention to that we've tried dealing with the government, provincial government, and failed. We were just trying to deal with the issue and it all failed. We managed to get one study done; it was dealing with salmon. We never went beyond that because dollars were always a factor. Through this agreement we signed we were able to put some dollars aside and get something done. So that's progress. Having a say, hopefully will put that very certainly in full sometime down the road.