The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation filed a claim in Vancouver federal court last Thursday against Canada’s federal government for authorizing licenses for 10 fish farms in tribal waters without consulting or seeking consent from the group.

The Dzawada’enuxwm, from Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia, Canada, say that the net-pen Atlantic salmon farms owned by Marine Harvest and Cermaq along the British Columbia coast pollute and poison wild salmon habitats and that the establishment of fish farms without their input infringes upon their Aboriginal rights, which are protected under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act.

The First Nation’s lawyer said that the government has no excuse for infringing on constitutionally-protected indigenous rights and that both federal and local governments know very well what their obligations are, according to the National Observer.

"This nation is claiming their Aboriginal rights, they're claiming their title, and they're saying those fish farms violate that title and those rights and they have to go,” lawyer Jack Woodward said. "These court cases will undoubtedly be successful.”

“Our salmon stocks continue to decline rapidly and soon I fear the very possibility that our salmon will be no more. It is a keystone species and its decline impacts us on so many levels,” Faron Soukochoff, elected chair of the Dzawada’enuxw, said in a press conference last week. “Casting aside all that we hold dear in the pursuit of the almighty dollar throws off that balance, bringing chaos to order. I was raised on the land and water and taught to respect all of the creator’s creation — the animals, the sea, the land, Mother Earth, and I will teach my sons and my grandchildren the same teachings.”

The case is the first rights-based challenge to Canada’s federal system for fish farm licensing and the Dzawada’enuxw seek to have the licenses for the 10 farms along the coast repealed.

This story was originally published by Seafood Source and is republished here with permission.

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