This week, Oct 19-25, 2021, we will be battling factory fish farms in court along with David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Living Oceans Society, and independent biologist Alexandra Morton, and represented by Ecojustice.
After the outgoing Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, announced the removal of factory farms from Discovery Islands by June 2022, the industry launched legal challenges. The vast majority of federal salmon farm licences expire in June 2022. To date in the hearings, the factory fish farm companies have been mildly successful, winning an injunction allowing them to re-apply for fish transfers for their Discovery Islands farms. Despite the legal win, the Minister of Fisheries still turned down their subsequent applications to transfer fish into the area.
This week’s judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision, in simple terms, is an evaluation by the court of whether the Minister of Fisheries had the authority to make the decision to remove the farms from the Discovery Island and if it was a reasonable and fair decision. Although the judicial review can’t reverse the Discovery Islands decision, a judgement in favour of the companies poses significant risk. It could influence future decisions by the fisheries minister and provide the government cover to allow fish farming to continue in the Discovery Islands.
While the hearings are scheduled to run from October 19 to 25, our lawyers at Ecojustice say the judge’s decision could take six months. I admit I am nervous about the outcome, especially because Prime Minister Trudeau’s party did not explicitly restate their previous promise to remove salmon farms from B.C. in their most recent election platform. If a commitment doesn’t show up in the upcoming mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the new Minister of Fisheries, and we get an unfavourable judicial review decision, I’m going to be very concerned.
Please take a moment to write the Prime Minister and remind him that removing B.C. salmon farms should be a priority in his upcoming mandate letter to the new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. We will update you with the outcome of the court process as soon as we know it.