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B.C. First Nation to reactivate judicial review of DFO's salmon farm virus policy

An Atlantic salmon is seen jumping inside its tank during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C., on Oct. 31, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press) An Atlantic salmon is seen jumping inside its tank during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C., on Oct. 31, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)
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A British Columbia First Nation says it is reluctantly preparing to take legal action to challenge Fisheries Department salmon farm policy as it loses faith in federal plans to remove the open net-pen fish farms by next year.

Namgis First Nation Chief Victor Isaac says going to court is a last resort, but the northern Vancouver Island nation must fight to protect the wild salmon off B.C.'s coast.

He says the First Nation has served notice to the fisheries minister that it will reactivate a 2019 judicial review application over Fisheries Department policy against testing for a salmon virus before restocking open-net pens for farmed salmon.

Isaac says the court application was put on hold in 2021 following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's directive for the Fisheries Department to transition away from open net-pen salmon farms in B.C. by 2025, but the Nation is no longer optimistic that will happen.

He says the judicial review application seeks to challenge the Fisheries Department's policy not to test for the Piscine orthoreovirus before stocking open net-pen salmon farms in B.C.

The Fisheries Department was not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2024. 

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