Chiefs and other first nations leaders saw another side of aquaculture during a recent visit to Norway.
Marine Harvest and Grieg Seafoods invited 11 people from nine first nations to attend Aqua Vision 2008 in Stavanger, Norway.
“The purpose of the trip was to share information about global aquaculture and to visit the birthplace of salmon farming,” says Ian Roberts of Marine Harvest.
The five-day trip included two days at the AquaVision 2008, visits to a cod hatchery, halibut farm, salmon research centre and a fisheries and aquaculture school.
A meeting with Norwegian fisheries minister Helga Pedersen was a highlight of the trip for the Canadians, says Roberts, because she is of Sami descent, the first peoples of Norway. Quatsino Chief Tom Nelson says the trip was “very interesting.”
“I was very impressed with the halibut farming. It could happen here,” says Nelson. “I was very impressed with the cod they were raising too.” He was also impressed with the education offered to young people. “They teach young students to be fishermen and to cook. I never tasted Atlantic salmon that tasted so good,” said Nelson. The Quatsino First Nation is currently working on establishing shellfish farming, but Nelson sees more aquaculture potential in the future. “It can happen. It does cost quite a bit of money, but we have to take a look at it and see,” says Nelson. “I hope we can get it (shellfish farming) going and make it a success.”
Veteran commercial fisherman James Walkus was also one of the participants in the tour. “I found it very fascinating,” said Walkus. “Their science efforts, of studying the Atlantic salmon, was very good. It is truly remarkable how much effort they put into fish farming to make it a success in their country.” Walkus, of the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw, has been fishing since 1955 but thinks aquaculture is part of the future in Canada. “It’s my opinion that we need aquaculture here,” says Walkus. “If it’s done properly, the end results will be very good for our country. The stock is in decline and can’t support the supply and demand.” And he doesn’t blame fish farms for that decline. “It’s a combination of many things,” says Walkus. “Like global warming, feed, over fishing and the imbalance of nature.”