The First Nations Summit is deeply concerned with the possible impacts stemming from the June 17, 2003 Provincial Court decision in the fisheries case R v Anderson et al.
The fishery resource sector has historically been the basis for some of the most contentious disputes between First Nation communities and the commercial fishing industry. In this historic dispute First Nations people have been effectively marginalized in access to the resources. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)_played a significant role in this in cases such as Sparrow, Marshall & Delgamuukw. With these decisions the Supreme Court of Canada started a process to create a more level playing field and in response the Department of Fisheries and Oceans developed the Aboriginal Fishing Strategy(AFS) and related pilot sales program.
While not perfect, the AFS provides some access to the fishery resource for First Nations people. As with commercial and sport fishing, the Fishery Act provides direction for the Minister to allow other fisheries such as those contemplated in the pilot sales program. The pilot sales program is not extensive, and is limited to a small number of First Nations communities providing a much needed resource opportunity.