‘Namgis First Nation launches suit against DFO over PRV policy
The 'Namgis Big House.(Supplied by the 'Namgis First Nation)
The ‘Namgis First Nation is once again suing Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Chief Don Svanvik says the nation has taken legal action because it wants a judicial review of a recent DFO policy decision. On October 3rd the DFO decided it would not prohibit open-net pen fish farms from being stocked with Atlantic salmon infected with piscine orthoreovirus.
Svanvik says that under this PRV policy, “smolts are to be tested for two supposed ‘strains’ of PRV prior to transfer into open-net pens but will not be tested for a supposedly ‘native strain’ of PRV. DFO has not produced any evidence that such a ‘native strain’ of PRV exists. DFO will not prohibit stocking fish farms with fish infected with PRV.”
The chief goes on to call that a “flagrant disregard of the precautionary principle, scientific research, our constitutionally protected title and rights, and the findings of the federal court,” and points out that the federal court has twice already found the DFO’s refusal to prohibit stocking fish infected with PRV unlawful.
The lawsuit also accuses the DFO of failing to “meaningfully consult and accommodate” the ‘Namgis First Nation on its PRV policy.
Back in February, the court struck down the DFO’s previous PRV policy and also found that the DFO had breached its duty to consult with ‘Namgis on that policy. The court suspended that judgment for four months.
The ‘Namgis First Nation is claiming that during that time the DFO failed to consult with them, asked for a four-month extension, which the nation agreed to, and then breached the agreement “the very next day” by releasing an interim policy without any consultation.
“Then,” says Chief Svanvik, ”after four months of supposed consultation the DFO announced the exact same policy.”