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Chief Willie Moon has occupied salmon farms in the past, and says the Musgamagw Dzawda’enuxw is prepared to do whatever it takes to close fish farms along the coast. (Jon Hernandez/CBC) Jon Hernandez is an award-winning multimedia journalist from Vancouver, British Columbia. His reporting has explored mass international migration in Chile, controversial logging practices in British Columbia, and the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Follow Jon Hernandez on Twitter:

Dozens of Indigenous leaders and protestors rallied outside the Vancouver Convention Centre today urging the province to dismantle salmon farms along the B.C. coast.

The calls came as environmentalists and members of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwamis First Nations occupy two Marine Harvest Canada salmon farms in their territorial waters.

They say the salmon farms pose a threat to wild fish populations.

Chief Willie Moon was among the many leaders who spoke at the rally. He says frustrations have mounted as repeated calls directed at the provincial and federal governments to revoke fish farm licensing in traditional Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory have gone unheard. Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner says the spread of sea lice and breachs in farm nets are among the major concerns. (Jon Hernandez/CBC) "We’ve demonstrated peacefully for over 30 years, and we’re occupying now," he said. "It’s unlimited as to what we will do to get those fish farms out of our territory."

Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner says the spread of sea lice and breaches in farm nets are among the major concerns that he says threaten wild salmon fisheries.

"This fish farm industry is posing a real danger to bringing our wild salmon to extinction, and it must be stopped." Chief Bobi Chamberlin, right, holds a document to be delivered to the B.C. government that urges leaders to move fish farms in-land, in closed containers away from the ocean. (Jon Hernandez/CBC) Documents addressed to province

The World Salmon Alliance has issued a document signed by Indigenous leaders from more than half of B.C.’s First Nations, calling on the provincial government to dismantle open-pen fish farming in favour of land-based, closed containment farms.

The document also calls on the government to embrace recommendations made in the Cohen Commission , which was mandated to look into the state of salmon stocks in B.C.’s Fraser River.

"The vast majority of First Nations in British Columbia are absolutely opposed to open pen fish farms," said Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vice-president Bob Chamberlin. Protesters gather at the Marine Harvest fish farm on Swanson Island, near Alert Bay, B.C. in a handout photo from the Facebook page Swanson Occupation. Ernest Alfred, 36, sitting cross-legged on the right wearing a cedar bark neck ring, sits with other traditional leaders from neighbouring villages. (The Canadian Press/HO-Facebook-Swanson Occupation) Chamberlin says he will present the document to premier John Horgan at the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering , a two-day summit being held in Vancouver.

"What you’re witnessing with the occupation with the fish farms is what happens when the previous governments have turned a deaf ear, when they relied upon consultation and accommodation that never met the needs of our people," said Chamberlin. Protestors cause disruptions

Ian Roberts, spokesperson for Marine Harvest Canada, says the occupations, which began as peaceful, have since become disruptive. Indigenous leaders attempt to block a packing boat from boarding the fish farm near Swanson Island. (Facebook/Swanson Occupation) Yesterday, occupation members attempted to blockade a packing ship from entering the farm. Roberts says they put themselves in danger of being struck by the large ship.

"We’re becoming more concerned about safety," said Roberts. "Getting in between a dock and a large boat is very, very dangerous. We were able […]

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