The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation of Kingcome is taking legal action against Canada to remove 10 salmon farms from their traditional waters located in the Broughton Archipelago northeast of Vancouver Island.
“We are standing up to say we are taking back our lands, territories and resources, said Traditional Leader Willie Moon of Dzawada’enuxw First Nation (DFN).
“I know how the government works, they divide and conquer our elected and our traditional [leadership], but today we stand united with our elected moving forward for our people and our children.”
The community has said no to open-net fish farms for 30 years.
The statement of claim, filed in federal court argues that the federal government authorized fish farm licenses without their consultation or consent.
The claim also says fish farm operations pollute and poison wild salmon.
The Dzawada’enuxw believe that open-net pens pose a serious threat to already low salmon stocks and have been actively protesting against the industry for three years.
(Members of Dzawada’enuxw First Nation and supporters gather in downtown Vancouver. Photo Courtesy: Rob Smith/APTN)
DFN members occupied Midsummer Island fish farm, owned by Marine Harvest Canada, but were ordered off in December 2017 by a court injunction.
Jack Woodward, the nation’s lawyer, represented the Tsilhqot’in in their landmark title and rights case.
“This is an action against Canada to terminate the federal licences which authorize fish farms,” said Woodward.
“The legal basis of the case is that these federal licences infringe upon my client’s constitutionally-protected Aboriginal Rights.”
This lawsuit is the third court challenge the DFN has filed since last year.
“A win on any one of these cases could end fish farm licences for Atlantic salmon on the B.C. coast,” said Woodward.
Last month the B.C. government announced a plan to phase out some fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago, but it did not include DFN.
The Dzawada’enuxw left the government-to-government talks early last year.
Although DFN believes the new deal between three other First Nations and the Province made some progress in protecting wild salmon from fish farms, they fear critical gaps remain.
Chief Moon said DFN is taking matters into their owns hands, “Our membership said zero tolerance.”
“Get those fish farms out of the water!”