FACEBOOK PHOTO/Swanson Occupation Members fo the ‘Namgis First Nation pose in front of a sign in Alert Bay in fall of 2017.

Federal court dismisses ‘Namgis First Nation’s bid to block fish farm restocking

Justice Manson said Marine Harvest has made “good faith” attempts at consultation with the ‘Namgis.

‘Namgis First Nation failed to win an injunction that would have blocked the restocking of a Marine Harvest open-net fish farm in its traditional territories off Swanson Island.

Independent biologist Alexandra Morton put out a press release dated March 26, stating, “At 8:00 a.m. this morning Marine Harvest poured the first of 950,000 Atlantic farm salmon into the Swanson Island salmon farm in ‘Namgis territory where members have stood in protest against this happening since August 24. On Friday, the nation lost its injunction to stop this restocking. Restocking will continue over the next week.”

The ‘Namgis had applied for the court injunction against Marine Harvest earlier in the month hoping to block the company from transferring juvenile Atlantic salmon (smolts) to its Swanson Island farm.

They also applied for an injunction against the fisheries minister as part of a broader application for a judicial review of federal policy that does not require fish to be tested for piscine reovirus or heart and muscular disease before being transferred to a farm.

Federal Court Justice Michael Manson said in his decision the company has operated for 28 years in compliance with Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s requirements for transferring fish.

He also said Marine Harvest had no other place to move the smolts, given that the injunction application was filed so close to the late March or early April restocking date.

Manson added Marine Harvest has made “good faith” attempts at consultation with the First Nation.

“Farm fish are killing our salmon, our way of life and there can be no reconciliation with First Nations as long as there are farm salmon in my territory,” said hereditary leader Ernest Alfred via press release.

Alfred, a schoolteacher in Alert Bay, started the occupation and remains at the site, demanding Marine Harvest not restock farms in ‘Namgis territory.

According to Morton’s press release, the Provincial tenure for the Marine Harvest Swanson Island farm expires in June, but Premier John Horgan has not decided whether or not to renew it and the 21 other sites in Broughton Archipelago, representing 1/3 of the industry in BC.

“The Canadian and Provincial governments are allowing a million Atlantic salmon into this small bay in ‘Namgis territory, when Washington State just prohibited the industry,” said Morton via press release, who has published several scientific papers on the spread of piscine reovirus in BC, “I have to do what I can to try to stop this virus from spreading.”

On March 22, 2018, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law to phase out Atlantic salmon farms.

Marine Harvest published a press release of its own on its website, stating, “The Court’s Order and Reasons confirm Marine Harvest’s Swanson Island salmon farm has been operating for many years (28) under compliance with Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) requirement for transfers of fish during that period of time. Mr. Justice Manson also noted that ‘Marine Harvest has maintained dialogue with the Applicant…requesting meetings to share data and production plans, stewardship, facility observations and collaborative research.’

Marine Harvest confirmed it will continue to seek engagement with the ‘Namgis First Nation to find collaborative solutions and a pathway forward.

– with files from Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Valley residents can help mark World Alzheimer’s Month

Two-part online discussion series called “Demystifying advocacy” on Sept. 28 and 29

Island Corridor launches survey to determine importance of Vancouver Island rail line

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Who’s running in Cowichan?

A list of Cowichan candidates for the upcoming provincial election

Cowichan Aquatic Centre will reopen on Oct. 13

But facility will only be open on a limited basis for time being

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read