Cermaq and Grieg ‘disappointed’ over Canadian court ruling

Mouth of the Okisollo, British Columbia (photo: Cermaq)

A legal move to maintain open pen fish farming around the Discovery Islands in British Columbia – at least for a time longer – has been rejected.

A Federal Court judgment said that a decision by former fisheries minister Joyce Murray in February last year did not breach the operators’ rights of procedural fairness.

Judge Paul Favel added that the federal decision, which cited the uncertain risks posed by fish farms on wild salmon, was “reasonable.”

The judicial review appeal was launched by two Laich-kwil-tach First Nations (Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai), Mowi Canada West, Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC against the 2023 Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s decision not to re-issue Atlantic salmon farming licences in core Laich-kwil-tach territory (Discovery Islands). The judicial review mainly addresses the process leading up to the decision. Grieg Seafood previously had one farm in this area.

Cermaq Canada said it was “disappointed to learn that we were not successful in the second judicial review of the federal government’s decision to not renew aquaculture licences in the Discovery Islands region.

“Historically, Cermaq operated three sites located within the core traditional territory of the Laich-kwil-tach and Klahoose peoples.”

The company added: “Cermaq Canada will continue to focus on working within the broader transition framework and to support a responsible plan for the future of aquaculture in British Columbia.”

Grieg Seafood has also expressed disappointment, but Mowi has yet to formally respond.

British Columbia’s First Nations are divided on the salmon farming issue, with nations such as the ’Na̱mg̱is strongly supporting the ban.

Conservation lobbyists have also accused the salmon farming industry of using the judicial system for “predatory delay”, to ensure that the ban on net-pen farming does not come into effect.

Photo: Mouth of the Okisollo (credit: Cermaq)

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