More than 400 people have now been arrested at the Fairy Creek blockades, RCMP say
Mounties on Vancouver Island say they've now arrested more than 400 people since they began enforcing an injunction against anti-logging protesters camped out in the Fairy Creek Watershed.
Nine more people were arrested Saturday for breaching the court injunction that prohibits interference with logging operations in the area, according to a news release from Lake Cowichan RCMP.
Police say they have now arrested a total of 403 people during their enforcement of the injunction. The total number of arrests made is higher, because at least 28 people have been arrested multiple times, according to RCMP.
People have been camped out in the Fairy Creek Watershed since last August to defend what they describe as the last unprotected old-growth forest on Southern Vancouver Island.
The protesters aim to stop logging company Teal Jones, which holds licences allowing it to log in the watershed.
The company has said in the past that about 200 hectares of the 1,200-hectare watershed is harvestable, with the rest either protected or on unstable terrain. It has also said that it plans to harvest about 20 hectares from the harvestable area.
The B.C. Supreme Court granted the injunction on April 1, and RCMP have been enforcing the court's ruling since May.
While some members of the Pacheedaht First Nation have joined the blockades, the nation's elected leadership has asked protesters to leave.
The Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations have agreed to a two-year deferral of old-growth logging operations on roughly 2,000 hectares in the Fairy Creek and central Walbran valley. During that time, the nations plan to develop long-term resource stewardship plans for the area.
Protesters have remained in the area despite the deferral and the injunction, however, arguing that any logging in the watershed is unacceptable.
One of the nine people arrested for breaching the injunction on Saturday had been arrested previously, according to police. That person was held in police custody, pending a court appearance, while the other eight were released in Port Renfrew, police said.
A 10th person was arrested at the blockades Saturday on a Canada-wide warrant issued by the Canada Border Services Agency, police said.
Mounties did not specify what offence the CBSA warrant was for, saying only that the person arrested was held in custody "on the strength of those immigration warrants."
Of the total arrests so far, 305 have been for breaching the injunction, 81 for obstruction, seven for mischief, three for breaching release conditions, two for assaulting a police officer, one for counselling to resist arrest and one for an outstanding CBSA warrant, police said.