British Columbia salmon farmers facing Supreme Court showdown

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West Canada’s booming salmon farming sector is facing a Supreme Court challenge over land and water rights.

The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation community is taking legal action to stop the operation of open-pen fish farms on its traditional territory, according to CBC.

The South Coast-based community of Kingcome Inlet in British Columbia has filed a claim of Aboriginal title in the provincial Supreme Court for the land and waters in and around the Broughton Archipelago northeast of Vancouver Island.

10 fish farms which have licenses granted by the province are included in the suit as well as a slew of forest tenures.

Jack Woodward, the lawyer representing the Dzawada’enuxw, said the land claim will allow the group to seek an injunction to prevent fish farms from renewing their operating licenses — many of which expire this month on June 20.

“This is really the ultimate remedy that they could seek. This is their territory. They own it and they don’t think that the fish farms have any right to be there,” “Woodward said.

The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation claim the farms pose a threat to wild fish populations and have sustained an often militant campaign to halt farming.

Environmentalists and members of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwamis First Nations occupied two Marine Harvest Canada salmon farms in their territorial waters last September.

Hereditary Chief Hawil’kwo’lal said the fish farm operations cannot continue.

One of the larger companies which operate some of the fish farms affected by the claim, Marine Harvest, said in a media statement it has been seeking to develop positive partnerships with First Nations.

It said it has business agreements with 15 First Nations and is seeking agreements with 24 others whose territory it operates in.

Marine Harvest have yet to comment on the title claim.