Canadian Native Bands sue over salmon fish farms

The Globe and Mail Canadian newspaper reports that the Kwicksutaineuk/Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation (KAFN), comprised of several bands from northern Vancouver Island, are trying to get authorization from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to sue the federal and provincial governments for damaging wild salmon stocks by allowing fish farming in the Broughton Archipelago.

The Nation raises both the weight of modern scientific research and the traditional cultural importance of salmon in seeking certification to bring a class-action lawsuit against government.

In one affidavit, Chief Robert Chamberlin said salmon are central to the lives of the aboriginal people in the Broughton Archipelago, who share a common language, culture and historical experience.

He said the tribes have village and fishing sites in the area that date to before European contact.

“The traditional abundance of salmon runs is the material foundation for our large winter villages and our winter ceremonies,” stated the affidavit.

For exmaple, the naming of children, coming of age, marriages and other ceremonies marked by salmon feasts have been harmed because wild stocks in the area have largely been wiped out.

He said each household in the Broughton Archipelago got only two salmon last year and the cost of potlatches and other ceremonies increased dramatically because more groceries had to be shipped in by boat.

The bands – and science – blame the proliferation of salmon farms and the alleged related spread of sea lice for the collapse of wild stocks.

Fred Whoriskey, vice-president of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University, stated in his affidavit that the decline of salmon runs in the Broughton Archipelago coincides with the growth of salmon farming from 1987 to 2006.

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