Film star DiCaprio joins anti-farm campaign, faces backlash

Leonardo DiCaprio (photo: Siebbi)

A-list Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has become the latest celebrity to come out against open net pen fish farming in British Columbia – but his stance has sparked a backlash from indigenous groups who want to save the industry.

The star of many hit movies including Titanic and The Great Gatsby (pictured, photo by Siebbi) has criticised the Canadian government for extending the licences of salmon farming companies for up to six years to give them more time to adjust.

The Oscar-winning actor, who is known for his forthright views on the environment, posted his criticism on Instagram, accusing Ottawa of breaking its promise. He said people should join the fight against any extension and accused the Canadian government of breaking its promise to end net-pen farming by 2025.

But people in British Columbia are split on the issue, especially among First Nation groups. The Kitasoo Xai’Xais Nation issued a statement condemning DiCaprio’s comments, saying: “There is an incorrect story being told by celebrities and activists who do not understand nor account for the realities of First Nations. Organisations like Wild First Canada pull activists and the public in with misinformation and get big names to stand behind them, with zero accountability for how this could devastate the progress Indigenous Peoples have made to attain food affordability, job security and independence as a nation.”

The statement concludes: “Decisions about our territories should not be made or influenced by external parties, be it the Government of Canada, privileged self-serving CEOs or Hollywood actors… we, the Kitais Xai’xais Nation, are salmon farmers, and we will not be governed by external influences who have excluded Coastal First Nations from writing their own narratives and determining their own futures.”

Their criticism is particularly stinging for DiCaprio, whose latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, deals with the plight of indigenous people in the USA.

Fish farm, British Columbia, Canada

The Canadian government is also rejecting DiCaprio’s demands, standing by its decision to extend the licences tio allow time for a transition. The Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans told CTV News: “Our government remains committed to work on a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025… we continue to work on a responsible transition plan that protects Pacific salmon, while supporting workers and their communities.”

And Brian Kingzett, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, has extended an invitation for DiCaprio to visit Canada and see the industry for himself which would establish that his claims were baseless.

Kingzett commented: “While I have a lot of respect for what he [DiCaprio] does, he has never visited a salmon farm, has never met any of the Indigenous communities that we support and employ, who have environmental stewardship over our farms, so it’s really disappointing.”


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