Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement between Abegweit First Nation and Canada
In the 1999 Marshall decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty right to hunt, fish, and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood based on the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-1761. This decision applies to 34 Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey First Nations in Atlantic Canada, as well as the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik in New Brunswick.
Following those decisions, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) worked with the 34 First Nations to ensure they had access to commercial fishing and program funding for capacity building. In parallel, rights-based negotiations were also undertaken with interested First Nations or their representative organization.
In 2017, DFO, Parks Canada Agency and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada obtained a five-year mandate to negotiate time-limited and legally binding Rights Reconciliation Agreements (RRA) on issues related to fisheries and national parks with the Peace and Friendship Treaty Nations.
Once signed, a fisheries RRA can provide funding to acquire new fisheries access, vessels, and gear. It can also establish a process for collaborative fisheries management and provide funding for implementation, and governance. Depending on the interests of each Treaty Nation, a fisheries RRA can contain both the access, vessels and gear and the collaborative fisheries management component or just one of them.
Agreement with Abegweit First Nation
Abegweit First Nation is a Mi’kmaq First Nation located in Prince Edward Island.
Under the RRA mandate, Canada and Abegweit First Nation have negotiated a Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement that will allow for the provision of funding to Abegweit for the implementation and governance related to its fisheries management activities.
The Collaborative Fisheries Management Agreement between Canada and Abegweit:
- recognizes the Treaty right to harvest and sell fish
- provides funding for implementation and governance related to fisheries management activities
- establishes a collaborative management process between DFO and Abegweit to manage its Mi’kmaq fisheries, through a Joint Operational Committee and an Executive Oversight Board
- commits to ongoing discussions, through the Joint Operational Committee or the Executive Oversight Board, to address the priority to facilitate the further implementation of the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood
- commits to consultations with the Joint Operational Committee or the Executive Oversight Board on a process for Mi’kmaq participants to enter new or emerging fisheries on a priority basis
- has a five-year term, which is renewable up to 25 years
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