Sustaining Herring Stocks: Injunction Granted

A victory respecting the responsibilities to protect herring, which White Raven is proud to have brought on behalf of the Haida Nation.

For Immediate Release | March 6, 2015

“The Haida Nation approached Canadian courts to stop an unsustainable herring fishery, and we were successful,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “The court was receptive to our submissions and we were able to demonstrate a very real problem in the management of herring and the attitude of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We hope with this ruling DFO will start working with us to develop a sustainable fisheries.”

Council of Haida Nation, Legal Team, Haida citizens and supporters at Injunction Hearing, March 5, 2015

“Our laws bid us to address issues with yahgudaang (respect for all things) and not just from an economic perspective. This win is another step to building herring stocks, and in doing so, contributes to an economy that will provide a reasonable living for our people, and the path of reconciliation with Canada.”

The Federal Court found that the Haida Nation met the stringent second and third requirements for an injunction: “irreparable harm” and the “balance of convenience”.

“Irreparable harm” refers to harm to the Haida Nation that could not be compensated in monetary terms if the fishery had gone ahead. The “balance of convenience” involves weighing the potential prejudice to all parties: the Haida Nation, DFO, the fishers, and the public interest.

The ruling acknowledges that the government of Canada, through DFO, has a heightened duty to accommodate the Haida Nation in negotiating and determining the herring fishery in Haida Gwaii given the existing Gwaii Haanas Agreement, the unique Haida Gwaii marine conservation area, the ecological concerns, and the duty to foster reconciliation with and protection of the constitutional rights of the Haida Nation.

Many factors have gone into the success of this ruling. The Haida Nation has over years made concerted efforts, in good faith, to resolve its differences with Canada, BC, and industry. These processes have included the Gwaii Haanas land and marine agreement, the SGaan Kinghlass agreement with the Government of Canada, and the Kunst’aa Guu -­ Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol with the Province of BC.

To date, the Government of Canada has been less than forthright in that there has been basically no cooperation on resolving differences or efforts to reform their management systems, especially in regard to herring. The United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union did support the herring closure recognizing the vulnerability of stocks around Haida Gwaii.

“The Courts have provided another opportunity for Canada to do the right thing,” said Lantin. “There is no better partner than the original people to provide sound management on the land and in the sea.”


Simon Davies