Canada’s Fisheries Minister ignored science advice on salmon farms, rules judge

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Federal court judge said that there is “no uniform opposition of First Nations to the aquaculture industry.”

The Globe and Mail reports that a federal court judge has concluded that Canada Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan “acted against science advice from her department and ignored her own commitments when she made a decision that would devastate the business of some fish farms”.

“It seems to me that applicants should be able to know what to expect when they engage in a regulatory process, especially where, as is here, there is a significant investment in time and financial resources,” said Justice Peter Pamel.

Earlier this month, Judge Pamel granted an injunction to Mowi Canada West so they can grow out salmon at the two sites Hardwicke and Philips Arm in the Discovery Islands, BC.

He found that Jordan’s action was contrary to the advice of her own officials and prevented the farms from raising some of their fish to the point of sale. In March, it was reported that a memo revealed fisheries minister’s phase-out of B.C. salmon farms went against department advice, which would have given the industry more time.

“There is nothing to suggest that the minister would necessarily have found in 2020 that aquaculture sites would post more than a minimal risk of harm to wild sockeye salmon populations and in September, 2020, DFO in fact determined that they did not,” he said.

Justice Pamel also added that there is “no uniform opposition of First Nations to the aquaculture industry.”

The ruling has little immediate impact as it doesn’t force the minister to grant the companies the transfer licences, reported the publication.