(North Vancouver, BC) – A panel of Aboriginal fisheries experts appointed by the First Nations Summit and the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission has come down with a far reaching and hard hitting report entitled “Our place at the table: First Nations in the BC Fishery”. The report contains 7 recommendations including the call for an overhaul of the BC’s fishery and immediate recognition of Aboriginal fishing and fisheries management rights. It further recommends an immediate moratorium on further introduction of Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs) in the west coast fishery unless and until the legitimate Aboriginal share of all fisheries is addressed.
The reports authors, Russ Jones, Marcel Shepert and Neil Sterritt, also say that a good faith gesture to initialize the changes their report calls for would be for Canada to immediately “allocate to first Nations as an interim measure, a minimum of 50% share of all fisheries, with an understanding that this may reach 100% in some fisheries”.
Panel members say the interim 50% share would signal a serious attempt to reconcile aboriginal and crown title and to recognize that First Nations rights to BC fisheries are as important as others in the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. The panel points out that since Aboriginal title is the underlying title, putting it on a more equal footing in the interim is justified.