Legal

Filing a charge

The following federal acts serve to protect the freshwater and marine habitats, spawning grounds and migration routes of wild salmon in Canada, as well as regulating commercial, sport, food and aquaculture fisheries.

It is possible to file a provincial or federal charge as a private citizen. For example, in 2010, community members of Port McNeill witnessed illegal bycatch mingled with farmed salmon in transport. A charge was laid by a private citizen under the Fisheries Act, the Department of Justice assumed the case and the farm company eventually pleaded guilty and were fined (Regina v. Marine Harvest Canada Inc).  As the government of Canada says,

“The right of a private citizen to lay an information, and the right and duty of the Attorney General to supervise criminal prosecutions, are both fundamental parts of our criminal justice system.”

For more information on this process, you can read the report Private Prosecutions in Canada: a citizen enforcement alternative.

Wild salmon’s legal foundations

The following are examples of legal documents and decisions regarding wild salmon, and in particular aquaculture, in Canada. They are of enourmous benefit as they set the legal context of the interaction of pathogens between farmed and wild fish,  providing a precedent we can build on.

  • Cohen Commission – Aquaculture Coalition’s submission on ISAv, 2011 – The three days of hearings held by the Cohen Commission in response to recent positive test results for ISA in Pacific salmon both demonstrated that infectious salmon anemia is present in British Columbia, and, confirmed that the federal government does not take a precautionary or responsible approach to the risk and presence of disease in salmon in British Columbia.
  • SARA Killer Whale Recovery Strategy, 2011 – As part of the strategy, this document recommends to reduce the introduction of biological pollutants, including pathogens and introduced species, into the habitats of killer whales and their prey.
  • Hinkson decision regarding Morton v. British Columbia (Agriculture and Lands), 2010 – Hinkson found aquaculture to be a fishery, to be managed federally as opposed to provincially.
  • Wildsmith Technical Report, 1984 – The author examines in detail aquaculture regulations and points out problems posed by their provisions and the lack of a consolidated set of federal aquaculture regulations. Particular attention is paid to ambiguities posed by dealing with aquaculture in conjunction with the wild fishery, such as whether size, number, year, and season restrictions unintentionally apply to culturists.