Government of Canada and the Maliseet of Viger First Nation reach agreement on fisheries

News release

August 30, 2019

Cacouna, Quebec — The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. Building on this commitment, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (DFO), the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, and the Grand Chief of the Maliseet of Viger First Nation, Jacques Tremblay, announced today that they have agreed to a long-term plan to advance reconciliation in the fisheries.

The 10-year renewable Fisheries Resources Agreement addresses areas of mutual interest in the fisheries. It will help foster improved relationships with, and outcomes for, the members of the Maliseet of Viger First Nation by:

  • recognizing the First Nation’s Treaty rights to harvest and sell fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood;
  • helping to reduce socio-economic gaps by providing funding to the First Nation to acquire more fisheries licences and quota, as well as vessels and gear; and
  • establishing a process for a collaborative fisheries management approach.

Today’s agreement was reached in the spirit of collaboration to advance the recognition of First Nations’ treaty rights and marks real progress on the issues most important to the Maliseet of Viger First Nation. Having a long-term agreement in place will benefit the First Nation by encouraging the development of the Maliseet fishery.


“Today’s long-term fisheries agreement balances the rights and interests of the First Nations and the broader fishing community in Quebec. The Maliseet of Viger First Nation has shown their commitment to increasing and diversifying their participation in the commercial fishery. We arrived at today’s agreement through open dialogue and negotiation, and we look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with the Maliseet of Viger First Nation, as we move forward along the path of reconciliation.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Today’s fisheries agreement with the Maliseet of Viger First Nation, implementing their treaty rights, is a concrete example of progress towards self-determination for the benefit of community members.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“In addition to recognizing our rights in commercial fishing activities, this agreement establishes a new model for collaboration in the management of fisheries resources and marine environments. With this agreement, and our project to develop the Port de Gros-Cacouna, the Maliseet of Viger First Nation intends to play a dominant role as guardian of the St. Lawrence River.”

Jacques Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Maliseet of Viger First Nation

"The signing of this historic agreement demonstrates our government's work to advance reconciliation with Aboriginal communities in Quebec and across Canada. The implementation of this new long-term agreement will help to support the livelihood of fish harvesters from the Maliseet of Viger First Nation. It will ensure a stable, predictable and sustainable industry for all fish harvesters in our coastal region."

Rémi Massé, Member of Parliament for Avignon — La Mitis — Matane — Matapédia

Quick facts

  • The Maliseet of Viger First Nation has a registered population of approximately 1,200, situated primarily in the Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec. The Maliseet of Viger First Nation operates a commercial fishing enterprise, fishing snow crab and northern Gulf shrimp and diversifying into other commercial fisheries.

  • Since 2017, the Maliseet of Viger First Nation has been in discussions with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on fisheries rights. These discussions broadened in March 2019, with the conclusion of a framework agreement to review the nation-to-nation relationship, as part of a broader reconciliation process led by the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

  • Discussions were undertaken by the Government of Canada in a manner consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the federal Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

Associated links


Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Matthew Dillon-Leitch
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern
Affairs Canada

Pascal Dubé
Project Manager
Maliseet of Viger First Nation

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