March 6, 2015

Injunctions: Haida Nation v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans)


The Haida Nation sought an injunction to prevent the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (the “Minister”) from opening a commercial herring fishery in the Haida Gwaii area. The bases for the injunction was the continuing decline in their herring stock and the irreparable harm to the stock an opening would cause. The Haida Gwaii’s herring stock had been closed to commercial fishing for roe since 2003; closed to commercial harvesting of spawn on kelp since 2005; and in 2014 and 2015, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recommended against allowing a commercial herring harvest given the need to conserve the stock. Despite its own department’s recommendation, the Minister authorized opening a commercial herring fishery.

The court determined there was no question that the Haida Gwaii herring stock declined between 2013 and 2015, and despite the lack of any fishing in the 2014 season, the stock was predicated to further decline in 2015. There was “more of a certainty” that irreparable harm would be caused to Haida Nation if the 2015 commercial herring fishery were to take place. In granting the injunction, the court noted the cultural importance of Haida Nation’s ability to harvest for herring roe gives even greater force to the argument for irreparable harm.

Haida Nation v. Canada (Fisheries and Oceans), 2015 FC 290

Lisa C. Fong, Michael Ng, and Siddharth Akali