VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - A year after environmentalists and fishermen sued British Columbia for allowing fish farm expansion in the Broughton Archipelago, the government faces a class action from Indian bands who claim the farms violate their constitutionally protected fishing rights.
Chief Robert Chamberlin of the Kwicksutaineuk / Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation claims in B.C. Supreme Court that the province's Minister of Agriculture and Lands "has authorized and regulated salmon aquaculture [which] has caused a serious and material decline in the wild salmon stocks within the Broughton Archipelago, which may result in the extinction of some salmon runs."
The province licenses 29 fish farms in the plaintiffs' territory, the complaint states, and allows aquaculture companies to farm non-indigenous Atlantic salmon in permeable pens, which increases the amount of sea lice and other parasites in the marine environment.
The Kwicksutaineuk say the have had to change their fishing practices and say the farms caused the "loss of the cultural, ecological, and spiritual integrity of the wild salmon habitat and fishing sites, including their ability to maintain cultural practices related to the wild salmon harvesting. ... The Province is, or ought to have been, aware that the manner in which it has authorized and regulated the salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago has had and continues to have significant, cumulative, and deleterious impacts on the wild salmon."
The class is represented by J.J. Camp with Camp Fiorante Matthews.
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