British Columbia

Captain Kirk beams in to back wild salmon protection bill

Bill C-228 proposes the federal government amend the Fisheries Act to require all open net fin-fish farms to transition to closed containment systems.

William Shatner asks Canadians to support Bill C-228 and the phasing out of open net salmon farms

William Shatner's video message encourages Canadians to support a private members bill introduced by NDP MP Fin Donnelly which aims to phase out open net fish farms. (CBC)

Fin Donnelly has landed a big fish in his campaign to protect B.C.'s wild salmon.

This morning, the Port Moody—Coquitlam M.P. unveiled a video message from William Shatner — Captain Kirk himself — encouraging Canadians to rally behind Donnelly's private members bill.

"Wild salmon," said the 85-year-old Canadian actor, "are a national treasure. But their future is in jeopardy. They are under threat from sea lice and disease from open net farming."

Bill C-228 proposes the federal government amend the Fisheries Act to require all open net fin-fish farms on the Pacific Coast to transition to closed containment systems within five years.

Speaking at the the Mossom Creek Hatchery in Port Moody, Donnelly also said the nascent closed containment fish farm industry in B.C. needs support. 

"There are over 70 licensed closed containment fin-fish farms in B.C. growing salmon, tilapia, crayfish and trout," he said. "But the federal government needs to act now to see this trend continue."

Also speaking in support of Bill C-228 were Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, SFU Professor emeritus and salmon researcher Rick Routledge and Dr. Andrew Wright of the Willow Grove Foundation. 

"Closed containment allows us to escape the eternal choice of the economy or the environment," said Wright. "It allows wild and farmed salmon economies and ecosystems to thrive."

Donnelly says over 5,000 people have signed the petition in support of his bill and almost 1,000 have written their members of Parliament.

Bill C-228 will have a second reading in Parliament in November and could go to a vote before the end of the year.