First Nation announce decision to sue Government of Canada over salmon farms

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Dzawada’enuxw argue the federal government authorised licenses for fish farms operating in their waters, without their consultation or consent.

At a press conference in Vancouver on Jan. 10, 2019, Chief Willie Moon, traditional leader of the Dzwada’enuxw Nation announced their lawsuit, as reported in The National Observer.

The publication said that their case is the first ever rights-based challenge to the federal licensing process that fish farm companies rely on to operate along the coast of B.C.

According to the statement of claim, “the federal government did not consult the community or gain consent for 10 open net pen fish farms, infringing on the nation’s Aboriginal rights, protected under Sec. 35 of the Constitution Act.”

However the claims have not yet been heard in court. And the announcement is the latest in a long line of legal challenges – represented by Jack Woodward, Q.C – a practicing lawyer specialisng in Indigenous law – and the First Nation.

In December, SalmonBusiness reported that the BC goverment and First Nations are to phase out 17 salmon farms in Canada by 2023. However Willie Moon wants all fish farms removed from his nation and other supporting group’s territories.

When asked about the lawsuit, Fisheries and Oceans Canada Communications Lead Dan Bate told the publication that, “Fisheries and Oceans Canada welcomes the recommendations regarding aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago set out by the Province of B.C., First Nations and industry leaders. We are committed to working with the Province of B.C., Indigenous leaders, industry and environmental groups to address the steering committee’s recommendations in a manner that is consistent with our new sustainable approach to aquaculture.”