Lack of Justice Leads Federal Court to Overturn Olx Praca’s Fish Farm Phase-out

A federal court judge overturned a Fisheries Department ruling that should have stopped fish farming on the Discovery Islands in British Columbia.

Federal Court Judge Elizabeth Heneghan said in a ruling on April 22 that the order, issued in late 2020 by then Fisheries Secretary Bernadette Jordan, violated due process rights for 19 fish farms that were due to close by the end of June.

Fish farm operators Mowi Canada West, Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood have filed for judicial review of the order that prevented them from restocking their farms, arguing that it lacked merit and that it “does not demonstrate understanding of the facts.”

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Heneghan agreed with the applicants that when a decision maker deviates from the recommended course of action, reasons are needed.

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“A decision in the absence of reasons cannot be justified. In the absence of reasons, it is not transparent. In the absence of reasons, this is incomprehensible.

Heneghan’s ruling upholds fisheries operators’ request for judicial review, upholds an injunction allowing restocking of fisheries on Discovery Island, and reverses the minister’s decision while a spending order follows.






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The British Columbia Salmon Producers Association said it was encouraged by the decision, however declined an interview request while it looks more closely at the decision.

“This is a positive development for the indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities in which we operate, as well as the thousands of family-supporting jobs our sector supports,” the association said in a statement.

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray was not available for an interview on Tuesday, but her spokeswoman Claire Teichman said the minister would decide on the next steps “in due time.”

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“She remains committed to moving away from open-pit salmon farming in British Columbia’s coastal waters,” Teichman said.

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Murray’s mandate directs her to take fish farming out of British Columbia waters by 2025.

Teichman says sustainable management of ocean ecosystems, including wild salmon, is a priority for her.

Heneghan’s decision also said that statements by mediators, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the Georgia Strait Alliance, focused on issues such as constitutional protection of indigenous rights and the precautionary principle, but did not address the issue of lack of procedural fairness.

Last year, Mowi claimed it would incur losses of about $26 million, lay off at least 78 people and terminate local contracts if it was forced to cull 1.18 million smolts instead of transferring them to Discovery Island farms.






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Fish farming has been a controversial practice along the coast of British Columbia, where concerns have been expressed by some about the potential impact on wild stocks.

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The Cohen Commission on Fraser River Sockeye Reduction, published in 2012, described the Discovery Islands as a bottleneck in wild salmon migration routes.

However, one of the panel’s key recommendations to eliminate fish farms along this route depended on the Fisheries and Oceans Service detecting more than minimal risk to migratory fish by September 2020. This condition was not met.

Instead, by September 2020, nine reports from the Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat concluded that fish farming on the Discovery Islands poses no more than minimal risk to wild stocks, the Federal Court said in the ruling.

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Bob Chamberlin, who heads the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, said the industry’s involvement in these reports, also noted in the ruling, raises questions about their independence.

According to him, the overall impact of the court decision will depend on the further actions of the minister.

“Of course we were hoping for a different outcome,” Chamberlain said in an interview.

“What worries me from a First Nations perspective is that it seems to me that the expression of Aboriginal rights and how they were taken into account was not given much importance at all.”

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The Alliance said 102 First Nations pledged to support the transition to land-based fisheries in closed containment.






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Jay Richlin, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation in Western Canada, said he considers the decision a procedural order and not a “death knell” for a federal plan to phase out fish farms.

“They just need to formulate a rationale with enough time and detail that it’s not considered unfair, I think that’s essentially what this decision is telling us,” Richlin said.

Last month, Prime Minister John Horgan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that any plans to move away from open salmon farms must be accompanied by a transition plan for the industry and workers because hundreds of jobs and the economies of dozens of communities have been destroyed. risky.

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