Showdown in NS?
Despite mounting opposition, our NDP provincial government keeps refusing to regulate fish farming in a responsible
manner. A court challenge regarding its right to manage aquaculture might establish that it is also “unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid”, as it did in British Columbia.
On February 9, 2009, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the BC government does not have the right
to regulate salmon farms - the BC regulation of fish farms has become unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.
The fish inside the farm are now considered a fishery, not agriculture, and thus the federal
government has exclusive right to regulation. The court suspended the ruling for a period of 12 months to allow the federal
government to bring in proper legislation.
On September 29 - October 3, 2008, the case Alexandra Morton et al vs. the A.G. of British Columbia and Marine
Harvest Canada, Vancouver Registry, No. S083198 was argued in BC Supreme Court before Mr. Justice Hinkson. Filed under the
Judicial Review Procedure Act, RSBC, c. 241 the Petitioners sought a declaration that the statutory provisions of British
Columbia's Aquaculture Regulatory Regime - sections 13(5) and 26(2)(a) of the Fisheries Act (B.C.) - be declared unconstitutional
and of no force or effect by virtue of section 52 of the Constitution, which states that the regulation of Canada's fisheries
is under the sole jurisdiction of the Federal Crown and cannot be delegated to the provinces.
The response from Alexandra Morton, lead petitioner in the case, was one of relief and joy. "Finally,
the government agency in charge of fish farms is mandated to put wild salmon first. This has come none too soon as provincial
management of fish farms is devastating many coastal communities."
"Because the province is not responsible for the oceans, the impact of fish farms on the oceans became nobody's
business and this is how we got into this mess," explains Morton.
"The B.C. salmon farming industry is largely foreign and facing severe global economic and disease problems,"
says Morton. "What makes countries wealthy is their resources and wild salmon are an extremely valuable fishery to the
benefit of the BC economy."
Citation: British Columbia (Agriculture and Lands), 2009 BCSC 136
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