FIN IN THE NEWS: Shatner weighs in on fishy issue

SUNNY DHILLON, THE CANADIAN PRESS\

William Shatner wants British Columbia's wild salmon to live long and prosper.

The Canadian icon, made famous for his work as Capt. James T. Kirk in the "Star Trek" series, has waded into efforts to protect wild fish from sea lice.

B.C. aquaculture critics have long accused farmed fish of spreading parasites to wild stocks.

Fin Donnelly, the federal New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic, introduced a private member's bill last month that would force fish farm operators to move from open nets along the B.C. coast to closed-containment systems.

Shatner joined Donnelly on a conference call Thursday in which he urged Canadians to prevent their precious resources from being destroyed.

"As a father and a grandfather (it's my) wish that my offspring live to see the same things I did, the wildlife and the wilderness," said Shatner, who dialled into the teleconference from Los Angeles.

Shatner, 79, said he gained personal experience with B.C. fish a few years ago when he did some filming on Vancouver Island and in the province's interior.

"I learned and saw first-hand not only the beauty of British Columbia, but saw how and was lectured on how this basic species, salmon, feed and nurture not only the animals that are on the land but the sea as well," he said.

In addition to his Star Trek work, Shatner played the role of lawyer Denny Crane on the TV drama "Boston Legal."

In a 2005 episode, his character travelled to B.C. to go fly fishing but learned the wild salmon population was under attack from sea lice, courtesy of fish farms.

"My rage is against companies that have no conscience about what they're doing and that the bottom line is the only thing they think of," he said during the conference call.

"What we must do is ensure that the farmed salmon do not destroy the wild salmon."

The Montreal-born Shatner did not take questions and conceded he hasn't read Donnelly's bill. ILLUS: The Canadian Press William Shatner