Nunavut Wildlife Management Board v. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans et al.

In Aboriginal Rights/Defences, Fish Cases, Judicial Review/Crown Liability on (Updated )

Barry Group, a Canadian Fishing Company, sold 1900t of turbot quota to two other offshore fishing enterprises for in excess of $10 million. The Minister approved the transfer in late January 2008 and after completing the usual searches, the purchasers completed the transaction in early March 2008, more than 30 days after the Minister’s decision. On March 14, 2008, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (“NWMB”) filed an application for judicial review, on the grounds that it was not adequately consulted. On its face, NWMB would not appear to be a party directly affected by the quota transfer approval decision, however the court held that it was and that the application was not beyond the normal 30 day time limit for such applications because NWMB was not aware of the decision until Feb. 18, 2008. None of the commercial parties had any notice of the NWMB interest until they received notice of the application for judicial review.

The Court held that the lack of consultation did not violate Article 15.3.4 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement because the quota transfer did not affect the substance or value of the Inuit harvesting rights and opportunities. As a result, the Court did not overturn the Minister’s decision. However, given new concerns raised by the applicant, the Court held that in the future the Minister should broaden his or her consultations with NWMB so as to give the Nunavut an opportunity to explore the possibilities of purchasing quota from quota holders that no longer wished to remain in the fishery.