Important Victory in the Continued Work to Protect Fraser River Wild Salmon From Extinction

(St’át’imc Territory) The St’át’imc Chiefs Council, along with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, ‘Namgis First Nation, Stó꞉lō Tribal Council, Musqueam Indian Band, and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs formed a First Nations Coalition in September 2023 to apply to the Federal Court for leave to intervene in a critical case for the survival of the Fraser River wild salmon and the closure of open net-pen fish farms in the Discovery Islands area of BC.

The Federal Court sided with the First Nations Coalition supporting the former fisheries Minister Joyce Murray’s decision to close open net-pen fish farms in the Discovery Islands.  On June 7th, the written ruling from Judge Paul Favel stated the February 2023 decision not to renew the licences for fish farms around BC’s Discovery Islands met the “requirement of the duty to consult” and “did not breach the operators’ rights of procedural fairness.”  The First Nations Coalition’s submissions supported the Minister’s decision of not renewing licenses to the fish farms in the Discovery Islands given the state of wild salmon, and the Minister’s obligations to Nations all along the migratory route.  This is an important victory in the continued work to protect Fraser River wild salmon from extinction, as well the continued cultural, traditional, and food security for Indigenous Nations along the Fraser, including meeting the needs for wildlife and broader benefits for a fully functioning ecosystem.

Justice Favel found that it was reasonable that the Minister concluded that the Discovery Islands was a unique area, and that despite advice from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), there was scientific uncertainty and scientific research that raised concerns about harmful impacts from Atlantic farmed salmon on wild salmon.  It was also found reasonable that the Minister would disagree with DFO… “While the Minister’s views on the scientific uncertainty varied from DFO’s advice and the [Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat] CSAS Risk Assessments, there was still a factual basis in the record to make that finding based on scientific papers before her that discussed the risks and uncertainties in the area.” Justice Favel also considered the Minister emphasized “how the considerations lead to needing a more precautionary approach”.


Chief Justin Kane, Ts’kw’áylaxw Elected Chief and Chair of the St’át’imc Chiefs’ Council)

“Fraser River wild salmon are essential to the identity and survival of the St’át’imc people. If the Fraser River wild salmon disappear the St’át’imc as we exist today will disappear. The St’át’imc have the responsibility and obligation to defend and steward the Fraser River wild salmon which have fed our people since time immemorial. As holders of what has historically been one of the richest fisheries along the Fraser River, we take this responsibility and obligation seriously. The Fraser River wild salmon face many threats. However, we believe that open net-pen fish farms along the migration routes of the Fraser River wild salmon are one of the main contributing factors to their decline. With consecutive years of historical low Fraser River wild salmon returns, significant steps in all areas must be taken now to protect Fraser River wild salmon from extinction.”

For more information contact:
Cait Cameron, Policy Advisor, St’át’imc Chiefs Council
To learn more about how open-net pen salmon farms threaten the survival of wild Pacific salmon visit: