Fisheries in British Columbia are in a period of transition as a result of increasing demands and pressures on the resource and shifts in government policy to try to respond to these and other issues. This includes First Nations seeking increasing shares in the fishery and greater involvement in management and decision-making, pursuant to their Aboriginal title and rights, and treaty rights. However, First Nations in BC have lacked a strong, collective vision and strategy to achieve progress on these goals, and to address the wide range of other regional and provincial fisheries issues. As a result, First Nations often find themselves reacting to issues that arise from government decisions on policy, legislation and programs, as well as actions and decisions taken by the commercial, sport and recreational fishing sectors or others.
In 2004, the First Nation Panel on Fisheries, co-commissioned by the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission and the First Nations Summit, released “Our Place at the Table – First Nations in the BC Fishery”. This report outlined a vision, goals and principles for changes in management and allocation in the BC fishery, based on hearings in First Nation communities around the province and over 50 submissions.
On October 4-6 and November 29, 2006, BC First Nations gathered together to build upon this previous work and to commence a broad dialogue about common fisheries issues. This BC First Nations Fisheries Action Plan is a result of those Forums. It provides First Nations with a solid foundation for future action; however, it is only a starting point. Further work and discussion is required to create a BC First Nations Fisheries Council, which will engage with First Nations in implementing a detailed workplan based on the actions set out in this document.