Fisheries operation is one way in which First Nations communities in British Columbia can create employment opportunities and develop economically. The BCAFN provides information and resources to help communities develop fisheries strategies, while respecting tradition. BCAFN Regional Chief, Terry Teegee also shares responsibility for the national Assembly of First Nations portfolio in fisheries.
The Federal Government is Failing First Nation Fishers, Senate Committee Finds
A new report from the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans asserts that the federal government has failed to fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries.
The report, Peace on the Water: Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries, examines the federal government’s response to the Marshall decision and the implementation of the rights of First Nations communities in parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.
The committee also heard several allegations of systemic racism within federal departments and agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Witnesses testified how federal authorities have pursued an enforcement approach that has surveyed and criminalized First Nation fishers, yet failed to protect them from acts of intimidation and violence.
The study makes 10 recommendations on how the federal government can fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries, including reallocating commercial traps to the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati, developing tools to educate the public about rights-based fisheries, and integrating Indigenous laws, principles and knowledge with scientific data into decision-making processes.
Read more about our involvement in the ongoing dialogues around fishing and fisheries in our communities:
Discussion Paper (AFN-Aug. 11, 2020): Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework pdf
First Nations Fisheries Council
The First Nations Fisheries Council works with and on behalf of BC First Nations to protect, reconcile, and advance First Nations title and rights as they relate to fisheries and the health and protection of aquatic resources, including access for food, cultural, and economic purposes. In recognition of the need to advance common positions on fisheries matters through a united front and a united voice, the First Nations Fisheries Council works to develop the necessary capacity and relationships that enable BC First Nations to influence the integrated planning and management of fisheries and aquatic resources. By establishing a coherent process and cohesive messaging for cooperation and collaboration among First Nations and between First Nations and government, BC First Nations can become active fisheries managers and decision-makers to ensure fisheries resources are conserved for the benefit of future generations.
Assembly of First Nation Fisheries
As the national political representative organization of First Nations, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is responsible for supporting and promoting inherent, aboriginal and treaty rights to aquatic and oceans resources. In accordance with the direction of the Chiefs across Canada, the AFN seeks to assist First Nations in fostering resource management, conservation and protection, as well as securing the recognition and protection of rights to aquatic and oceans resources. In this regard, the AFN continues to actively pursue and develop its capacity to provide the needed technical support and coordination on First Nation aquatic and oceans resource issues at the national level. The AFN has a responsibility to monitor and engage Department of Fisheries and Oceans in discussions about federal aquatic and oceans policy development and management issues.
The Fisheries Sector is responsible for the provision of technical advice, support to the Chiefs, and research and administrative support on behalf of First Nations in relation to the promotion and protection of First Nations’ aboriginal and treaty rights in the areas of aquatic, oceans and other natural resources. The issues that we need to address are among the most fundamental for the national identity, heritage and historic relationship Canada has with the First Peoples of this country. These outstanding issues are among the most complex, challenging, competitive and controversial elements of that relationship. The Fisheries Unit strives to assist First Nations in developing and initiating constructive and workable, long term solutions to our outstanding aboriginal and treaty rights issues. The task before us is to bring about these needed changes through processes that are meaningful, equitable and based upon the principles of mutual respect, reconciliation and government to government relations.
AFN Fisheries Program has a broad mandate to support First Nations in multiple thematic areas related to fisheries and aquatic resources. The Fisheries Program supports First Nations in creating, maintaining, and managing vibrant coastal and in-land fisheries which are central to community socio-economic wellbeing and traditional cultures. The Fisheries Program is advised by the National Fisheries Committee (NFC) and works closely with First Nation communities and technicians, academic institutions, and government partners to implement the AFN National Fisheries Strategy.