A B.C. First Nation that says its fishing rights have been violated by sea-lice infestations in wild salmon stocks has won the right to proceed with a class-action lawsuit against the provincial government

The Kwicksutaineuk/Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation (KAFN), based in northern Vancouver Island, says that open-net pen fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago have led to an outbreak of sea lice in wild salmon in its traditional fishing grounds.

The nation filed a lawsuit against the ministry of agriculture and lands, and on Wednesday, that suit was certified as a class action in B.C. Supreme Court.

The provincial federal governments had argued, among other things, that First Nations are generally barred from class action proceedings, and that every member of the nation would be required to individually prove their aboriginal fishing rights.

But Justice Harry Slade rejected those arguments, and ordered the suit to proceed to the case management stage.

If the suit is successful, KAFN is asking for financial compensation for the depletion of wild salmon stocks.