The support of the Coalition of First Nations Finfish Stewardship is behind two Laich-kwil-tach First Nations’ application for a judicial review of the DFO’s Discovery Islands fish farm decision.
We-Wai-Kum and We-Wai-Kai First Nations filed an application for judicial review, after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans opted to not renew licences for 15 fish farms in the area.
The decision made in February came after minister Joyce Murray found the state of wild salmon is dire. Murray added that by taking that approach, it will ensure the future of wild pacific-salmon for generations.
The Laich-kwil-tach Nations say the court challenge is not about whether or not they support fish farming.
“It is about our inherent right as title holders to decide how our territory is used, and determine for ourselves if, when and how fish farms could operate in the future,” said We-Wai-Kai First Nation chief councillor Ronnie Chickite in a recent statement.
The coalition adds the Nations also made a proposal to the minister in November, “based on an incremental re-introduction process to trial finfish operations.”
They say this would start with one farm operating for one cycle in their territory under heavy oversight by the Nations.
“This staggered approach would have encouraged Indigenous-led detailed research and analysis of the impact of finfish farms in our waters, blending western science and traditional ecological knowledge,” said We-Wai-Kum First Nation chief councillor Chris Roberts.
“It would have also supported commitments to and investments in new technology to reduce or eliminate interactions between farmed and wild salmon in our territory.”
The coalition adds they hope the decision can be overturned, so that the proposal can be considered and dialogue can take place.