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Author Topic: Fish farm Court Ruling  (Read 4371 times)

ksan

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Fish farm Court Ruling
« on: February 09, 2009, 09:50:50 PM »

B.C. court ruling says Ottawa, not provinces, should license fish farms


VANCOUVER, B.C. - A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that the federal government - not the provinces - should regulate fish farms because it has constitutional powers over the ocean.


09/02/2009 7:35:00 PM

 


THE CANADIAN PRESS

Justice Christopher Hinkson's ruling on Monday gives Ottawa 12 months to bring in new legislation so fish farms can be licensed by the federal Fisheries Department.

In B.C., fish farms are currently licensed by the provincial Agriculture Ministry. In New Brunswick, which also has a large fish-farming industry, they're regulated by the department of Agriculture and Aquaculture.

Biologist Alexandra Morton, one of the petitioners involved in the case, said the decision means wild salmon now have a chance to thrive instead of facing extinction.

But government lawyer Veronica Jackson has said concerns about fish farms or the manner with which they are regulated are matters of public policy, and not for the courts to decide.

Ottawa delegated responsibility for licensing fish farms to the provinces in the late 1980s.

Fish farm critics say sea lice from the open net-cage farms have been killing wild salmon who migrate past them.

Morton said the issue of farmed fish is bound to come up before the a May 12 provincial election in a province where wild salmon pump $1 billion a year into the local economy.

"People need to look around them and recognize that wild salmon are an extremely valuable fishery," she said.

"We do not want to be giving them away to Norwegian companies that are basically using this coast as a litter box," she said, referring to the foreign ownership of some of the companies operating fish farms on the B.C. coast.

The other petitioners in the case included the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society, the Wilderness Tourism Association, Southern Area Gillnetters Association, and the Fishing Vessel Owners' Association of B.C.

Ian Robertson, spokesman for Norway-based Marine Harvest Canada, which operates fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago in B.C. as well as elsewhere in the world, said the company was not in a position to immediately comment on the 76-page ruling.

"We look forward to working with both provincial and federal government regulators to help further the sustainability of our business," he said.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Ron Cantelon said he also did not wish to immediately comment on the court decision.

"We have 12 months to look at how this policy is going to impact us," he said.

In 2003, then-B.C. Agriculture Minister Stan Hagen announced that fish farms had to monitor and treat sea lice in response to declining wild pink salmon.

The farms have treated lice-bearing farmed salmon with chemicals, often put in their food.

Once such drug, Slice, is controversial because it's not officially approved for pest control in the ocean.

Morton said Slice has reduced sea lice on the wild salmon she has observed, but not by enough.

"All pests get immune to the drugs we throw at them," she said. "Plus, it's a neurotoxin and there's no signs around the farms for the public who are fishing there."

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chris gadsden

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2009, 11:09:53 PM »

Thanks for posting, good to see things maybe now going in favor of our wild fish stocks.

Athezone

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2009, 11:46:41 PM »

We can only pray and hope because if we wait for anything positive from these elected money mad cretins our salmon stocks will be going the way of the dodo bird. Its good news so lets keep our fingers crossed.
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hotrod

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2009, 06:44:43 AM »

I guess this throws out the First nation lawsuite against the Provincial government out the window! I see this as a bigger delay on Fish farms leaving BC.

    Hotrod
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 06:48:18 AM by hotrod »
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troutbreath

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2009, 07:08:43 AM »

12 months of lobbying federal MLA's with fish farm money. They should do the right thing and close the suckers down if they don't want to go the containment way. But most of the Conservitive MLAs here are going to get some hard cash (blood money) like real soon.
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?

eddy

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2009, 10:52:21 AM »

Transferring licencing to DFO will not mean the fix-all for all our woes. But if biologist Alexandra Morton thinks this is a good thing, we can all hope for better control of an industry gone wild.
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troutbreath

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Re: Fish farm Court Ruling
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2009, 01:58:22 PM »

B.C. loses salmon farm jurisdiction
 
Provincial supreme court rules the province has been improperly regulating industry
 
By Larry Pynn, Vancouver SunFebruary 10, 2009
 

 
Researcher Alexandra Morton, with lawyer Greg McDade, said B.C. should be glad to be rid of the controversial issue.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver SunThe B.C. Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government -- not the province -- has exclusive jurisdiction over the management of salmon farming, a landmark decision hailed as a victory for the future of wild stocks.

"The regulation of fish farming by the province is ultra vires, beyond its power," said a triumphant Greg McDade, the lawyer who pursued the case on behalf of sea-lice researcher Alexandra Morton and others.

"It means for 20 years, the province has been unlawfully regulating it."

McDade said in an interview the court found that "fish farms are not farms at all. They are fisheries. There is no private right of fishery in the ocean. These [farms] occupy areas that are meant for the rearing of wild salmon -- and that can only be authorized by the federal Parliament."

Ian Roberts of Marine Harvest, a Norwegian company that represents about half of the B.C. industry (80,000 tonnes in 2007), said salmon farms already work with both senior governments and are not concerned if Ottawa takes over responsibility from the province.

Roberts said the industry is committed to "stringent standards" and sustainability on the B.C. coast.

Salmon farming in ocean net pens has been the subject of long-standing concerns related to transferring disease and lice to wild stocks, pollution, and the escape of non-native Atlantic salmon.

Morton, who has led the fight against salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago, expressed hope for wild salmon because the federal fisheries department is "mandated to put wild salmon first."

Justice Christopher Hinkson suspended his decision for 12 months to allow the senior governments to sort out the transfer of power.

He said in his written decision that "fish which are reared in fin-fish farms on the coast of British Columbia are either a part of the overall British Columbia Fishery or are a fishery unto themselves. In either case they fall under the jurisdiction of Parliament."

Hinkson added that the "national resource of the fisheries is not a matter that should or can be left to a level of government other than Parliament."

Michelle Imbeau, communications officer for federal fisheries, said in Vancouver that Ottawa would not immediately comment on the ruling. She noted that the senior governments signed an aquaculture development memorandum of understanding related to management of salmon farming in 1988.

Ron Cantelon, B.C.'s newly appointed minister of agriculture and lands, with responsibility for aquaculture, said the court decision was under review by the provincial attorney-general's office and he hoped to be able to comment within a week.

"I'm not a lawyer," he said from Victoria. "Until I hear back from them, I can't say."

Morton said the province should be happy to get rid of the controversial salmon-farming portfolio in the run-up to a provincial election in May. It has 30 days to launch an appeal.

In 12 months, the applicable sections of the B.C. Fisheries Act, Farm Practices (Right to Farm) Act, and the various associated regulations cease to have any effect.

Morton was joined in her court challenge by the Wilderness Tourism Association, the Area E Gillnetters Association, the Fishing Vessel Owners Association and the Pacific Coast Wild Salmon Society.

She specifically created the society to raise $60,000 to fund the court case, heard over four days ending Oct. 2. The federal government did not participate in the case.

McDade said the province's rights in salmon farming are now limited to collecting taxes or seabed lease fees.

lpynn@vancouversun.com

ONLINE: Read the full court documents at vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
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another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?