The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Environmental Stewardship Secretariat – Fisheries Unit continues to work towards the implementation of the AFN National Fisheries Strategy (AFN-NFS). Fisheries, aquatic and ocean resources continue to represent an integral part of the diet, socio-economic well-being and cultural survival of First Nation communities.
The National Fisheries Strategy is designed to assist and restore First Nations’ rightful role in managing the fisheries, aquatic and oceans resources. The NFS is a long-term plan that embodies the recognition, protection and implementation of First Nations’ Aboriginal and Treaty rights.
The Strategy addresses a broad range of First Nation priority issues as well as discusses key policy and program sectors within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) that impacts and requires input from First Nations. In addition, the Strategy also supports and promotes sustainable First Nation fisheries in the inland and coastal aquatic and ocean resources.
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.
The National Fisheries Strategy (NFS) engages on a broad spectrum of legislative, policy and key program sectors within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) which serves to inform and communicate the various technical implications through joint dialogue processes with First Nations. These important dialogue processes also inform government where they must engage with First Nations on consultation and accommodation on relevant matters that can impact Aboriginal and Treaty rights. In addition, the NFS also supports and promotes sustainable First Nations fisheries, aquatic and ocean resource activities that can open new doors to explore new innovative economic opportunities.
Over the next five years, AFN will develop and implement an enhanced National Fisheries Strategy that encompasses a strategic plan to support the development of new technical and socio-economic development strategies that will include components directed from First Nation communities. The Fisheries Program will continue to implement key components of the NFS related to aquaculture, aquatic invasive species, habitat management, labeling and marketing, legislative and policy review, and Species at Risk. The Fisheries Program will continue to support First Nations in maintaining and improving fisheries access, managing aquatic and ocean resources, and cultivating new opportunities to enrich First Nations communities through aquatic activities.
If you have questions or comments about our work on fisheries or any other environmental issues please contact us at:
Environmental Stewardship Unit
Assembly of First Nations
55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1600
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L5
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is directed by the Chiefs-in-Assembly (Chiefs or their proxies in attendance at meeting), who meet twice a year during the Annual General Assembly (AGA) in July or at the Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) in December. The Chiefs-in-Assembly provide the AFN with mandates on priority issues through resolutions that are passed by consensus. These resolutions provide AFN Secretariats (Environmental Stewardship, Education, Health and Social, etc.) with direction and set the AFN national policy agenda.
Resolutions those are relevant to fisheries:
Resolution 83/2008 Strengthened and Renewed Mandate for the National Fisheries Strategy to Fully Share in Economic Opportunities; and,
Resolution 76/2009 – Support for First Nations Fisheries Management.
Resolution 53/2009-Support to AMIK Fisheries
Resolution 40/2010 Security against impacts from offshore Oil spills
Resolution 46/2010 Duty to Consult on Aquaculture
Resolution 47/2010 Support for Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights
Resolution 67/2010 National Mechanism to implement SSC Decisions-Fisheries
Resolution 68/2010 Snow Crab Fishing Rights and Compensation
These resolutions have strengthened and renewed the National Fisheries Strategy to undertake a series of new initiatives that will help First Nations fully share in economic opportunities through fisheries, aquatic and ocean resources.
In order to engage effectively in SARA, First Nations require capacity that will enable them to develop and assess the socio-economic costs and benefits with the listing and recovery strategies under SARA. (E.g. Lake Sturgeon, American Eel, loss of traditional diet, culture and socio-economic significance to First Nations) It is
equally important for First Nations engagement in the five-year review to ensure any proposed amendments to the existing legislation do not adversely infringe upon Aboriginal and Treaty rights related to aquatic resources.
1) Future areas for Discussion
The “DFO Guidance on Considering ATK in SARA Implementation” document and regional workshops, AFN is requesting to assist in future meetings and drafting/analysis of DFO document;
AFN made several recommendations in the 5yr review of SARA that included changing the wording of the preamble to ensure ATK does not enter the public domain and intellectual property rights are protected;
SARA should be amended to include clauses that protect ATK and the development of a legal regime to protect ATK complete with civil and criminal sanctions. A significant recommendation was the creation of a First Nation specific advisory body under sections 9.1&9.2 of SARA.
The SARA Conservation Policy Suite should include a separate policy on ATK.
Register that First Nation would like to be involved in the drafting of regulations and policies required under SARA.
AFN should participate at the Ministers Roundtable on SARA (there should be a MRT this year required under the Act, although it is EC event, SARA Aquatics are very important to First Nations.
It is recommended that the national coordinated approach continue to be supported throughout the scheduled SARA review that will provide additional capacity to allow First Nation discussions on related issues such as Aboriginal and Treaty rights, aboriginal traditional knowledge, compensation, and recovery strategies. For example, there are approximately fourteen sets of regulations that have yet to be drafted under SARA that will benefit from dialogue with First Nations. First Nations are interested in establishing a specific First Nation SARA Advisory Committee that can work with the Ministers and Canadian Endangered Species Conservation
AFN has produced a Marketing/International Trade Economic Development in the Fisheries booklet that will assist in understanding what exists domestically and international, and it expands on the national vision to help facilitate First Nations entry into the seafood industry by providing them with the tools and advice on what best practices exist, and how they can be involved or how to go about it.
The BC Seafood Development of the BC Ministry of Agriculture was able to attend the National Policy Analysis Group session in Vancouver and provided an introductory presentation to the group. They also provided and overview of some of the activities and processes in BC and shared some studies where there are markets for different types of fish around the world. They also spoke about the services that are available to exporters. Each province also has an office so First Nation companies can get assistance from both federal and provincial government departments. This initial dialogue has emphasized the broad interest in this particular area, and where more work is needed.
AFN also contacted the Agriculture Agri-Foods Canada Seafood Deputy Director of the Food Value Chain Bureau Sector Liaison for the Seafood Value Chain Round Table with a commitment to meet in the new fiscal year after the election to establish a new ground breaking relationship with AFN and First Nations.
At the NPAG March 1-2nd 2011 meeting Vancouver BC, there were agenda items to address Economic Development opportunities in fisheries:
Barriers and Opportunities, Solutions- domestic and international
Foreign Regs – what we should know
Eco-labeling – First Nation products
Catch Certificates- what we need to know DFO
On March 29-31 2011, the AFN, Aboriginal Aquaculture Association, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs, and the BC First Nations Fisheries Council co-hosted the National Aboriginal Fisheries Forum (NAFF) in Dartmouth, NS. The conference provided an opportunity for First Nations to come together to examine and discuss the current status of Aboriginal commercial fisheries across Canada, including trends, success stories, best practices and challenges.
Participants at the NAFF identified emerging economic development issues and advanced ideas to improve economic outcomes in the First Nations commercial fisheries sector. The NAFF fostered coast-to-coast discussion and promotes partnerships and collaborations between First Nation communities, government departments, and industry. The next NAFF will be held in Vancouver in 2011-12. As a result of the various discussions and interest expressed this year, First Nations are now looking to the AFN to assist them in building their ideas towards the establishment of a Marketing, Eco-labeling Aboriginal Consortium for aquatic products.
Discussion held at National Habitat Working Group on what FN’s would like to see in a National Watershed Protection Strategy. Used example from Chiefs of Ontario, group discussed what tools would be more helpful, and it was concluded that National and individual FN Declaration on Watershed protection would be appropriate. AFN drafted outline for First Nations to utilize in their community or regional Watershed Declarations and other considerations that may be useful.