FACEBOOK PHOTO/Swanson Occupation Members fo the ‘Namgis First Nation pose in front of a sign in Alert Bay in fall of 2017.

‘Namgis First Nation takes legal action against restocking of fish farms

‘Namgis are seeking a judicial review of DFO policy

‘Namgis First Nation is taking legal action in an effort to prevent Marine Harvest from restocking their Swanson Island fish farm site.

“Marine Harvest is preparing to restock their Swanson Island fish farm approximately 16km east of Alert Bay (‘Namgis Territory) with Atlantic salmon despite ‘Namgis strenuous objection and lack of consent,” states a March 13 ‘Namgis press release.

“On Friday we filed for an injunction to prevent them from restocking, pending the resolution for judicial review,” explained ‘Namgis Elected Chief Don Svanvik.

He said the legal action comes after repeated attempts from ‘Namgis First Nation to contact the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans regarding the issue, and not receiving a response.

“Nobody would listen to us – noddy would answer our letters, so the only option left to us was legal,” said Svanvik.

On March 9, ‘Namgis filed for an interlocutory injunction to prevent the Minister of Fishers and Oceans from issuing a licence that allows the transfer of smolts (juvenile salmon) into Marine Harvests net-pens in without first being tested for piscine reovisrus (PRV).

This follows the March 6 filing of a ‘Notice of Application’ seeking a judicial review of the of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans policy as it does not require testing for PRV in farmed Atlantic salmon prior to transferring smolts into net pens in ‘Namgis territory.

The ‘Namgis press release also references the 2015 Federal Court ruling, Morton V. Canada, which they state prohibited the issuing of licenses to transfer fish infected with PRV.

“Despite the Minister abandoning the appeal of Morton V. Canada, the Minister refuses to comply with the 2015 ruling and continues to unlawfully approve transfers of fish without even testing for PRV,” states the release.

Research has shown that PRV is associated with Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) in salmon, a disease that can be fatal as it reduces their ability to evade predators and return to their spawning grounds.

However, the ‘Namgis press release notes that “despite the legal prohibition on transferring PRV infected smolts into the marine environment both the Minister and Marine Harvest claim that PRV does no danger to wild salmon.”

“The fundamental part is that we have a ministry in our country not adhering to a law by federal court and that is a slippery slope – that we have different ministries that can ignore the law,” said Svanvik, adding “Regardless of what side of this issue you are on that has got to be concerning.”

In a March 14 press release, Marine Harvest said the ‘Namgis interpretation of the 2015 ruling was inocrrect stating that “The Court chose not to rule as to whether fish that are PRV positive should be transferred and did not arbitrate on the PRV/HSMI debate.”

Marine Harvest also confirmed they will oppose the legal challenge and defend the lawfulness of DFO’s regulatory framework for issuing transfer licences.

“It is concerning that the ‘Namgis are resorting to legal action rather than discussion, and misinterpreting what science tells us about PRV as the basis of a legal challenge that attempts to interrupt our business and put people out of work, some of them people of First Nations heritage,” said Vincent Ernest Managing Director of Marine Harvest Canada, in the release.

Marine Harvest also noted that as “required by the transfer licence, the salmon destined for Swanson farm have recently been screened for health by third-party laboratories and confirmed disease-free and healthy.”

The hearing for the injunction motion is set for next Tuesday March 20 and Wednesday March 21.

This story has been updated with comment from Marine Harvest. Check back with the Gazette for updates as this story progresses.

Just Posted

Gwaii Haanas Report: Talking About Everything plan

By Victoria Leslie A dinner of crab legs and clam fritters, halibut… Continue reading

CHN seeks injunction against logging at Collison Point

Weeks after ordering an end to a blockade there, the B.C. Supreme… Continue reading

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Talking toads on Haida Gwaii

Researcher to share the latest on protecting Haida Gwaii’s only native amphibian

Divided worldviews at play in debate over ocean fertilization

New study looks at attitudes that shaped reaction to controversial experiment off Haida Gwaii

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

B.C. ‘will be ready’ for marijuana legalization

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some stores open by Oct. 17

Polygamous wife appeals conviction in B.C. child bride case

Emily Blackmore was found guilty of taking her underage daughter to U.S. to marry church leader

B.C. sets deadline for Indigenous salmon farm consent

All 120 operations will need agreements by 2022, province says

Most Read