In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling in the Sparrow decision. This decision found that the Musqueam First Nation has an Aboriginal right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. The Supreme Court found that where an Aboriginal group has a right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, it takes priority, after conservation, over other uses of the resource. The Supreme Court also indicated the importance of consulting with Aboriginal groups when their fishing rights might be affected.
In response to this decision, and to provide stable fishery management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) in 1992. The AFS is applicable where DFO manages the fishery and where land claims settlements have not already put a fisheries management regime in place.
The AFS is of assistance to DFO in managing the fishery in a manner consistent with the Sparrow decision and subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decisions. The AFS seeks to provide for the effective management and regulation of fishing by Aboriginal groups through the negotiation of mutually acceptable and time-limited fisheries agreements between DFO and Aboriginal groups. Where agreement cannot be reached with an Aboriginal group, DFO will review the consultations with the group and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will issue a communal fishing licence to the group, containing provisions that the Minister believes are consistent with the Sparrow decision and subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decisions. The licence allows the group to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
Where DFO reaches agreement with an Aboriginal group, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will issue a licence to the group that reflects the agreement reached.
The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) Committee mission is to act as an Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors and Executive of NBAPC to ensure that the best possible arrangement is achieved so as to allow the members of NBAPC to have access to the various fisheries to fulfill their Food, Social and Ceremonial needs for themselves and families; without fear of threat, intimidation or harassment by federal or provincial enforcement officers; until such time that this agreement is replaced with an Aboriginal and Treaty Implementation Process.
- To provide for a point of future discussions between DFO and the Council on off-reserve fish harvesting and management in the area mutually agreed to by the Council and DFO;
- To enhance the involvement of the Council in the management, protection and enhancement of the several fishery resources and fish habitat in the area mutually agreed to by the Council and DFO and,
- To explore, develop and promote the Council’s access to fisheries resources in the area mutually agreed to by the Council and DFO.
What are the objectives of the AFS?
- To provide a framework for the management of fishing by Aboriginal groups for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
- To provide Aboriginal groups with an opportunity to participate in the management of fisheries, thereby improving conservation, management and enhancement of the resource.
- To contribute to the economic self-sufficiency of Aboriginal communities.
- To provide a foundation for the development of self-government agreements and treaties.
- To improve the fisheries management skills and capacity of Aboriginal groups.
- Fisheries Act
- Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council
- Maritime Aboriginal Aquatic Resources Secretariate
- The Sparrow Decision
- R. v. Marshall
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Maritimes Region)
- Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Gulf Region)
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture
- New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources
- SARA and Aboriginal People
- Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
- New Brunswick Fish Guide