Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Salmon on Trial: Cermaq Seeks "Reconsideration"

June 30, 2021

Licenced to kill

As we go to press with this newsletter, Living Oceans is back in court fighting to keep the Wild Salmon Narrows in the Discovery Islands free of farmed Atlantic salmon.

Multinational salmon farming giant Cermaq is once again trying to have the courts undo the good work it’s taken us all 20+ years to accomplish:  the Fraser River salmon migration route was free of farmed salmon (and their viruses, bacteria and parasites) this year, for the first time in decades.

The argument this time is that it was somehow unfair, and a breach of the previous court order, for the Minister to consult with First Nations on an application to transfer fish into farms in the Discovery Islands—just after she’d consulted with them about phasing out salmon farms there.

Minister Jordan has been quite clear about closing down the Discovery Islands farms; and she’s also been careful to make a decision that does not necessarily set a precedent for removing other salmon farms. As usual, our lawyers from Ecojustice did a spectacular job of laying out the legal authority for making the decision that she made to refuse the transfer licences and pointing out the potential harm to wild salmon that could follow on a reversal of that decision.

Hearings in these judicial review proceedings continue to suffer from the absence of the First Nations whose rights and views on salmon farming are discussed at length and form an important component of the information considered by the Fisheries Minister as she considers each application to transfer fish into the Discovery Islands. Their applications to intervene or be added as parties to the litigation were denied by the Federal Court and are currently under appeal.

Justice Strickland advised at the conclusion of the hearing that she would try to have a decision out by the week’s end. For the sake of the smallest return of wild Fraser River salmon ever seen (the 2020 return, whose young will migrate out of the river next year), we hope her decision will put a stop to these attempts to undermine Minister Jordan’s brave decision.