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Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior to make first Canadian stop at Chesterman Beach near Tofino

Ship scheduled to visit Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Oct. 19-20

Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior will make Chesterman Beach its first stop on a two-week Canadian tour.

En route from Korea, the "flotilla" (Greenpeacespeak for a protest on the ocean) will be held on Monday around 9 a.m. off Chesterman Beach.

Locals are invited to participate by paddling, motoring, or sailing out to join the Rainbow Warrior following a welcoming ceremony.

"The flotilla that we're going to be having there is intended to raise awareness and show solidarity for people that have been negatively impacted by the net-pen salmon farming industry," said Greenpeace oceans campaign coordinator Sarah King.

Local conservation group Clayoquot Action is helping Greenpeace coordinate the event locally.

"We're really happy to be involved," said Clayoquot Action co-founder Bonny Glambeck. "We don't believe the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is any place for open-net fish farms."

Glambeck believes the vessel will bring an international spotlight to the West Coast.

King said Greenpeace has been highlighting farmed salmon as a product of concern for a number of years and has been urging Canada's biggest retailers not to sell farmed salmon.

"The public have been seeing this as a concern for a long time and we'd like to see the government start to act and take the Cohen (Commission) recommendations more seriously," she said.

Grant Warkentin, a communications officer with Mainstream Canada, a fish farming company that operates 27 farm sites around Vancouver Island (including 17 near Tofino) believes Greenpeace needs to take another look at the fish farming industry.

"A lot of the information that they base their comments on is out of date and in a lot of cases they fail to acknowledge all of the positive changes and improvements that have been made in salmon farming over the last decade," he said.

"It is frustrating that environmental groups continue on these campaigns based on old outdated information.

"The last time I saw what Greenpeace was writing about salmon farming it was based on information that was at least a decade out of date," Warkentin said.

He said information about the aquaculture-fish farming-industry is reported publicly through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"There's so much information out there about aquaculture that I'm pretty confident saying that were more transparent than most other protein producers out there," he said.

"Environmental groups are going to say what they're going to say. I'm more concerned

about what the average person out there thinks and making sure they have the information to see and make up their own mind."

Greenpeace co-founder Bill Darnell is stoked to see the vessel arrive in Canada for the first time.

It was built in 2011 and became Greenpeace's first purpose-built campaigning vessel.

It is touted as a "tremendously efficient sailing vessel" and has a 55-metre mast and 1,200 sq. metres of sail.

"People might think of the Rainbow Warrior as an action-oriented vessel, campaigning for solutions to environmental crimes on the high seas and precious places like the rainforests," he said through a media release. "We're proud of our history and our successes and we invite people to visit the ship, connect with Greenpeace and get involved in the environmental issues we face now."

Locals will not be able to board the vessel during its stay in Tofino but there will be opportunities to tour through it when it is docked at Victoria's Inner Harbour on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.


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