Federal Court judge Justice Peter George Pamel granted an injunction against the decision by Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan to refuse Mowi permission to transfer fish into its Phillips Arm and Hardwicke sites.
The fish transfer ban was imposed last December when Jordan announced a decision not to renew licences for 19 salmon farms in the Discovery Islands beyond June 30, 2022. Her decision followed consultations with First Nations in the area who believe salmon farming harms wild salmon stocks, despite nine peer-reviewed studies stating that farms pose only a “minimal risk”.
Mowi had argued that the transfer ban meant it had nowhere to place juvenile fish being grown as part of a five-year planning cycle, and that up to 12 million fish would have to be culled instead of being grown to harvest size.
It has already been forced to cull nearly a million smolts.
A Chinook salmon farmer, Saltstream (622335 British Columbia Ltd) had also been prevented from transferring fish to its Doctor Bay site and is now also able to move fish from its hatchery.
Harm to employees
“While aquaculture in the Discovery Islands may pose a risk to wild salmon populations generally, it has not been established that the risk from allowing the transfer of fish into three sites is great enough to weigh against granting the injunction,” Justice Pamel stated in his decision.
“The harm to Mowi and Saltstream, as well as their employees, their families and other businesses in the community, in particular First Nations businesses, will be real and substantial if the injunction is not granted.”
The four companies affected by the decision not to renew licences for the Discovery Islands farms - Mowi, Saltstream, Grieg Seafood BC and Cermaq – have also applied for a judicial review of that decision.
Mowi Canada West managing director Diane Morrison said: “Our Federal Court application for judicial review of the Minister’s December 17, 2020, order to not renew our licences for Hardwicke, Philips Arm, and other sites in the Discovery Islands area continues.
“But for now, we do not have to cull any more fish and dozens of jobs are secure for at least a while longer.”
Turning back the clock
Dean Dobrinsky, Mowi Canada’s director of human resources and communications told BIV News website: “In effect, the minster has to turn back the clock to before December 17.
“It allows us to grow out the salmon at the two sites in the Discovery Islands.”