Chinook salmon. (File photo)

Feds and B.C. First Nations agree to better access to commercial fishing

Coastal First Nations sign agreement on behalf of seven nations on B.C’s central and north coasts

The federal government and a group representing seven First Nations on B.C.’s north and central coasts have signed an agreement on the management and expansion of community-based fisheries into Indigenous land.

On Friday, Chief Marilyn Slett, president of the Coastal First Nations organization, took part in a signing ceremony in Vancouver with Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and representatives from six other First Nations.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

“This agreement will get families and fishers back on the water and re-establish a small boat fleet in our communities,” Slett said in a news release. “By working together – on a nation-to-nation basis – we will provide opportunities for our communities to fully participate in the fishing economy, create new jobs and investments, and increase economic opportunities and build capacity.”

In a phone interview with The Northern View, a special advisor for Coastal First Nations involved in the agreement process, whose traditional name is Guujaaw, said villages used to have fleets of fishing boats up until the 1970s, when new licensing rules pushed them out.

The new deal provides funding through a corporate fishery model so that the First Nations can access existing licenses and quotas as they are relinquished by retired or soon-to-be-retired fishers and operators.

The federal government said the agreement could potentially lead to an rise in average household income of almost 50 per cent, and the creation of hundreds of jobs.

The seven nations included are the Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Wuikinuxv Nation, Gitga’at First Nation and Gitxaala Nation.

READ MORE: Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla oppose commercial herring fishery

READ MORE: Recreational fishing for sockeye salmon in the Skeena River watershed temporarily closed


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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