Cermaq, a Norwegian fish farm company, has lost its case in federal court. It had asked to move 1.5 million juvenile Atlantic salmon to two of its floating factory feedlots northeast of Campbell River between Quadra and Sonora Islands.
In December 2020, Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan ordered all companies to close their factory fish farms in the Discovery Islands. Cermaq has been mad about it ever since.
First, they asked for special permission to transfer their leftover salmon to two feedlots at Venture Point and Brent island. The federal government said no after consulting with seven local First Nations opposed to the farms.
So Cermaq went to BC’s Federal Court and asked them for special permission to go ahead with the transfer. During the hearing, lawyers acting on behalf of independent biologist Alexandra Morton and environmental groups argued that allowing Cermaq to transfer more juvenile salmon would put wild salmon at increased risk.
The court’s decision wasn’t expected until October.
Apparently, the Federal Court works fast. On July 6, they turned down Cermaq’s request.
“Cermaq’s continued attempts to overturn the Fisheries Minister’s landmark decision to remove fish farms in the Discovery Islands reveals how tone-deaf this industry is,” said Stan Proboszcz, Science Advisor at Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “Marine salmon farming is a dinosaur industry. They need to evolve onto land or simply pack-up and ship out.”
Cermaq’s proposal was controversial with affected First Nations.
In April, the Wei Wai Kum council, representing one of three bands in Laich-kwil-tach territory, voted unanimously to support a deal between the Nation and Cermaq to restock the pens one more time.
“This was a very tough decision for my council to make, and myself—to even go down this pathway,” Chief Chris Roberts of Wei Wai Kum told the Watershed Sentinel.
According to Roberts, Cermaq said that restocking the pens would have kept 30-40 jobs going for a little longer.
Laichwiltach Hereditary Chief Gigame George Quocksister Jr. disagrees. He doesn’t think factory fish farm companies have local jobs in mind.
Quocksister told the Watershed Sentinel, “I can’t see [Cermaq] doing this for the workers. It’s all about the profit.”