stats Making the Business of Life Easier

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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)


Trouble in paradise

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by John Lehmann.
The Globe and Mail, November 19, 2001

Part 6 of 10: The frenetic growth of the industry

Tofino locator The industry that now employs Frank hit the West Coast in the 1970s, and its first two decades amounted to a pink gold rush marked by frenetic, haphazard and largely unregulated growth. The provincial government, keen to offset the devastating collapse of the commercial fishery, gave out fish-farming permits to almost anyone with a line of credit.

Many of the small operators - plumbers and accountants among them - were eager for a quick return, and pumped too much feed and antibiotics into the water, with no waste-management system. They believed the fish would grow faster, and for some farms, they did. But then death rates of fish began to increase, and concerns arose about pollution from the farms.

"I would have been surprised if salmon farming had come in and there was no conflict. You're the new kid on the block. You're not understood.
Kevin Onclin
biologist, Pacific National

The protests didn't stop. In 1993, the province, responding to a court challenge, required fish farmers to consult local first nations in order to get a licence. But many local native bands and environmental groups - fresh from their logging victory - considered this a token gesture. In the animosity reached new heights when vandals attacked one of the farms

No one could prove the vandals came from Ahousat, but there were suspicions. Pacific National, then a small local company, decided to make peace anyway. It hired an aboriginal liaison officer, began holding regular meetings with the Ahousat and agreed to hire more native people for the farms and processing plant. It also brought school tours to the farms to win some goodwill.

Onclin, the company general manager, says he has come to appreciate the native viewpoint. Ahousat is now his biggest source of employees, ahead of Tofino.

"When something's been in your family for four or five generations, anything new is a tough pill to swallow. I can understand that. I would have been surprised if salmon farming had come in and there was no conflict. You're the new kid on the block. You're not understood."

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 10):

Photo Essay
The Salmon People

1. 'I took the farm job because it was a last resort'
Big industry, new technology changes life for the salmon people

2. 'Pink gold'
Ahousat's fishing boom

3. 'Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon'
The reserve's dispute over salmon farming

4. The science of aquaculture
Escapes, 'die-offs', and the many sides of debate

5. Life at Ahousat
No one gets rich, but neither is anyone destitute

6. The frenetic growth of the industry
'When something's been in your family for four or five generations, anything new is a tough pill to swallow'

7. Farming, not catching, the fish
'There's a reason 30 per cent of the world's fish is now produced by aquaculture'
8. Negotiating with the natives
'People really need to spend some time learning about each other. If you end up in court, you've failed.'
9. The risks and challenges of learning to adjust
'There's a future for our people in this industry as long as it's done right'
10. Bridging the gap
'Three or four years ago, we were ready to fight these guys'



photo essays
Two worlds - photo essay

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