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B.C. First Nations involved in salmon farming demand apology from William Shatner, Ryan Reynolds

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A coalition of B.C. First Nations involved in open-net salmon farming have called on Canadian actors William Shatner and Ryan Reynolds to apologize for a profanity-laced video criticizing the wider industry.

The video was released Thursday by the conservation group Pacific Wild, and features 93-year-old Shatner unleashing a stream of bleeped-out expletives directed at salmon farms – a response to the federal government's recent decision to extend the facilities' licences to operate off the B.C. coast for another five years.

While Reynolds does not appear in the video, it was created by Maximum Effort, the production company and digital marketing agency he founded.

On Friday, the Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship released a statement calling the video an "atrocious attack” on the dignity of members who “choose to host salmon farming” in their territorial waters.

"We have been the stewards of our lands, waters, and elements for over 10,000 years, including wild Pacific salmon, the life blood of our people," the statement said. "Due to the impact of colonization on wild salmon stocks, we have had to include salmon farming alongside salmon stewardship to fill the economic gap caused by the decline of wild salmon."

The coalition is made up of 17 First Nations that hold formal agreements with the salmon farming industry, and claims the sector brings in $133 million to Indigenous communities in the province annually.

“Sadly, this response from people like Mr. Shatner and Mr. Reynolds is all-to-common in today’s Canada. This is a classic example of … rich, elite, removed, urban white men overriding the wishes of vulnerable Indigenous communities,” the statement added.

The light-hearted video from Pacific Wild was released as part of a campaign calling on the government to act faster to end the use of open-net pens on the B.C. coast, as officials previously promised to do by 2025 – a push supported by the First Nation Wild Salmon Alliance.According to the alliance, more than 120 other First Nations in the province support transitioning away from open-net salmon farming.

Critics have argued the farms can spread disease and lice to wild fish, though recent science indicates uncertainty over the risks.

Canadian officials said the five-year licence extensions offered this week will allow farmers a "responsible, realistic and achievable" grace period for companies to transition to closed-containment or land-based facilities – though the industry has raised concerns that the technology necessary to do so will not be ready in time.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association argued five years was an unreasonably short period for making such a major transition.

"This focus on unproven technology jeopardizes the sector’s ability to fulfill agreements with rights-holder First Nations and will cause further harm to our communities," executive director Brian Kingzett said in a statement.

With files from The Canadian Press

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