News that the federal Liberal government is co-appealing a legal decision regarding transfer of diseased salmon has raised grave concerns and puts into question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to properly implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. The Alliance sent the following letter to Minister Tootoo and Minister Wilson-Raybould:
Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance
#213 – 46693 Yale Road
Chilliwack, BC V2P 2R8
May 12, 2016
The Honourable Hunter Tootoo
200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6
Delivered via email: Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca; Hunter.Tootoo@parl.gc.ca
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8
Delivered via email: email@example.com
Subject: Appeal of legal decision regarding transfer of diseased salmon
Dear Minister Tootoo and Minister Wilson-Raybould
This is regarding the circumstances surrounding the 2015 legal decision Morton v Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Marine Harvest. We, as thousands of British Columbians, find it very disconcerting that you both are engaged in co-appealing with Marine Harvest on the 2015 legal decision Morton v Minister of Fisheries and Marine Harvest that prohibited transfer of disease-carrying Atlantic salmon from freshwater hatcheries into marine net pens situated on migration routes of wild salmon. Particularly perturbing is this co-appeal is being fast tracked, and should it succeed, it would reinstate the salmon farming industry’s right to transfer fish from stocks known to have diseases of regional, national or international concern that can “severely and adversely impact wild fisheries if the company veterinarian deems the risk “low.” That would be like letting the fox guard the chicken coop and would be a classic conflict of interest. When we are dealing with mutating deadly viruses, the risks are simply too high, and could result in wild salmon going the way of the buffalo. This would be catastrophic to BC’s ecosystem, as well as Indigenous, sports, eco-tourism and commercial fisheries in BC. This goes against the precautionary principle advocated by Justice Cohen.
We are in solidarity with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ letter to you regarding this important and contentious issue. Your co-appeal with Marine Harvest would clearly indicate the Liberal government is carrying on the agenda set by the Harper conservatives, and that you are not respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Furthermore, this course of action in the co-appeal would be incompatible with the foundational values of the Cohen Commission’ Final Report, “The Uncertain Future of the Fraser River Sockeye,” which necessitates the further analysis of possible impacts salmon farms pose to wild populations before their continued promotion.
We urge you to reconsider your course of action and immediately drop co-appealing with Marine Harvest, and place a moratorium on ocean fish farms until the Cohen Commission recommendations have been fully implemented in collaboration with coastal and river Indigenous people. Remember, Marine Harvest did not elect you, Canadians did!
Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance President
CC UBCIC, BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, BC First Nations Fisheries Council, Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair, Elizabeth May, Fin Donnelly