Co-Development, Co-Design, and Co-Delivery of Indigenous Fisheries Programs

News Release

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is collaborating with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute for major program review

Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples and to ensuring that Government of Canada programs and initiatives meet the needs and expectations in communities from coast to coast to coast.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, today announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working together with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute to review Indigenous programs and develop a joint vision for the future of these programs that support Indigenous participation in fisheries, aquaculture and the management of aquatic habitat and resources.

The Government of Canada is committed to a collaborative approach with Indigenous communities to develop, design and deliver programs. 

The National Indigenous Fisheries Institute is a technical organization that works with communities, regional organizations, and government agencies to promote program consistency and standards across DFO’s Indigenous programs. The Institute is led by Indigenous fisheries and aquaculture executives from across the country. 

The Program Review will be guided by a panel composed of the Institute's board and representatives of DFO. The review process will include broad engagement of Indigenous fisheries sectors and communities across Canada. Indigenous groups can participate in this co-development process by visiting

DFO’s Indigenous programs support 4,400 jobs every year in Indigenous communities, and the commercial programs also generate about $120 million in revenue annually.


“Our government is committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and we know that fishing is a significant cultural activity for their communities. We are pleased to be collaborating with the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute to review and improve our programs to ensure they support the priorities of Indigenous communities and enhance the quality of life for Indigenous families. Collaboration is key to achieving enhanced outcomes for the benefit of these communities and the country as a whole.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard 

“This Institute represents early engagement on program review and program development at the outset. We have wanted that for a long time and it is happening.” 

John G. Paul, Executive Director
Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat 

“We need to change the practices that have evolved which no longer reflect the intent of the programs. This is our opportunity to do so.”

Jordan Point, Executive Director
First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia

“The Institute and this Program Review shows how we are working as equal partners in the development, design, and delivery of federal programs that impact the lives and resources of Indigenous Peoples."

Audrey Mayes, Assembly of First Nations 

Quick Facts

  • Quick Facts – Indigenous Programs under Review
    The review will look at five federally supported programs: Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, Aboriginal Fisheries Guardian Program, Aboriginal Aquatic Resources and Oceans Management Program, Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative. It will also examine the development of a new commercial fisheries initiative for the North.

  • The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy program provides a framework for the effective management of the Aboriginal food, social, and ceremonial fisheries in a manner consistent with the 1990 Supreme Court of Canada Sparrow decision.

  • The Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative assists 34 Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations with the means to develop commercial fisheries enterprise governance and business management skills in a manner consistent with the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision.

  • The Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative was built on fisheries reform work begun in response to the 2004 reports of the First Nations Panel on Fisheries and the Joint Task Group on Post-treaty Fisheries. It helps build capacity in commercial fisheries operations and helps communities have a more effective voice in fisheries collaborative management.

  • The Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program enables Indigenous groups to build capacity to manage their aquatic resource-related activities and participate more effectively in decision-making processes.

  • The Aboriginal Fisheries Guardian Program was established under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy. Guardian duties generally involve a mixture of: fisheries monitoring, catch reporting, habitat restoration, fish sampling, technical assistance to projects and community engagement/education.

  • The Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative will fund and support Indigenous groups and communities that are not eligible for the Atlantic or Pacific programs in all areas where DFO manages the fishery. Funding will be aimed at commercial fishing enterprise and aquaculture development, with a particular focus on business development planning and targeted training.

Associated Links



Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

National Indigenous Fisheries Institute



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