Finding a way forward on the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood – IRPP
The conflict over fishing rights demands leadership, new dialogue tables and a reckoning with systemic racism.
Many Canadians were shocked last fall by news coverage of non-Indigenous crowds threatening Mi’kmaq fish harvesters and burning boats and plant buildings in Nova Scotia. With fisheries now opening up for 2021, will there be more such conflict? The risks are high, and the situation demands new approaches by industry, government and First Nation leaders.
Almost all of the 35 First Nations in the Maritimes and Quebec whose treaty-based fishing rights were recognized by the Supreme Court’s 1999 Marshall decision now engage in regular commercial fishing with communally owned licenses issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). They also do small-scale harvesting for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes, an inherent Indigenous right recognized in the court’s 1990 Sparrow decision. The crisis in 2020 began when a few Mi’kmaq communities began to issue their own licenses to community members to conduct small-scale commercial fishing for lobster to earn “moderate livelihoods,” a treaty right recognized in the Marshall ruling. Non-Indigenous harvesters reacted, sometimes violently, against the idea of a new fishery operating outside DFO-regulated licensing, seasons and fishing zones. (The just-released report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans comprehensively explores the issues surrounding the moderate livelihood fishery.)
Read More: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/may-2021/finding-a-way-forward-on-the-mikmaq-and-maliseet-treaty-right-to-fish-for-a-moderate-livelihood/