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B.C. First Nation, aquaculture companies challenge Discovery Island fish farm closures in court

Feds made the announcement to close fish farms in Discovery Island region last month

Vancouver Island’s We Wai Kai First Nation and seafood giants Cermaq, Grieg Seafood and MOWI Canada West have filed an application for a judicial review to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) decision to close 15 fish farms in the Discovery Islands in February.

An application filed in a Vancouver court on March 20, lists the aforementioned seafood companies, as well as the We Wai Kai Nation providing the parties’ names but no further details. Grieg Seafood has also filed a second separate motion in the same court.

In a statement to the Mirror, Grieg Seafood says the decision to file the motion comes with a feeling of disappointment regarding the decision.

SEE MORE: Fisheries Department confirms closure of 15 Discovery Islands salmon farms

“Grieg Seafood is disappointed in the decision and the implication it could have on both B.C. and Canada,” the statement reads. “The filing will allow Grieg access to DFO documents which will provide insight into the decision-making process of the minister, which is important to understand for future planning and development.

The statement goes onto read that Grieg will “continue to work with First Nations, communities and suppliers to ensure that it continues to operate in a sustainable manner,” and “meets the expectations of both the regulator and the Nations in whose territories it operates.”

Anti-fish farm activist Alexandra Morton said while the We Wai Kai Nation’s participation in the motion was a shock to the community, the filing among the seafood giants shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“It’s interesting that Grieg lost only one farm in the Discovery Islands and is suing,” Morton said in an email. “They lost nine farms in the Sechelt Inlet in December but did not sue the First Nation that kicked them out. This seems like a terrible business model. To repeat suing their host country instead of making the changes asked of them to remain on the coast.”

“They did this in 2021 and won. Which only meant the minister had to make the decision again, which she did 30 days ago. The Nations and the companies decided to sue on the last possible day,” said Morton.

Edward Hitchins

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