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Government Reports puts spotlight on the need for formal direct dialogue between Indigenous leaders, commercial fishing organizations and the federal government

by ahnationtalk on May 19, 2021338 Views

With different interpretations of the Marshall decision and the release of the Surette and FOPO Reports, Coalition calls for a pause and reboot and the appointment of independent facilitators for direct talks between Indigenous leaders, commercial fisherman’s organizations and the Government of Canada on conservation and the management of our shared fisheries resources.

SHEDIAC, NB, May 19, 2021 – The newly released Surette and Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) reports, which were sponsored by the Government of Canada, confirms what commercial fishing organizations have been advocating for, which is a science-based conservation policy that respects First Nations rights, but which is led and enforced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The Coalition welcomes proposals for a cohesive long-term process led by DFO and which openly, respectfully, and substantively consults both Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous commercial fishing organizations. Of note, the Surette Report also highlights that there are different interpretations of the Marshall decisions.

Commercial fishing organizations agree with recommendations that there is a need for more formal, transparent, and open dialogue with all stakeholders.

Currently, there are ongoing secret negotiations taking place between 35 First Nations and DFO on fisheries management without formally consulting commercial fishing organizations and Canadians.  These negotiations potentially include transferring the conservation authority of DFO to First Nations and outside of the oversight of the Government of Canada.  Contrary to the approach of previous federal governments, these 35 negotiations are not transparent with no formal consultation with commercial fishing organizations, which is contrary to the Surette Report. This needs to change.

Of note also, both reports lack detail on an orderly formal negotiations process for First Nations leaders, commercial fishing organizations and DFO to directly work together.  This must be transparent and include substantive communication and dialogue as opposed to the current DFO approach, which is informal, fragmented and does nothing to solve the issues at hand.

Until this happens, the Coalition of Atlantic and Québec Fishing Organizations believes the government should immediately pause any negotiations with First Nations on changes to the fisheries that impact the management and conservation of the resource that we all share.

The reboot in negotiations would then need to include independent facilitators agreed upon by indigenous groups and fishing organizations and direct discussions between the Government of Canada, Indigenous leaders, and commercial fishing organizations.

Best and most sustainable solutions for the future management of the fishery should be based on peer reviewed science, an equal application of the law to everyone and one set of conservation rules fully enforced by DFO.

A national research commissioned by the Coalition shows that a strong majority of people agree with the Coalition and the intent of both government reports.  Survey participants support open and direct dialogue between First Nation leadership, commercial fishing organizations and the federal government.

For more information on the activities of the Coalition, including background documents and polling on the views of Canadians visit


We are a movement of fishermen committed to a sustainable healthy fishery and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

  • Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board (GNSFPB)
  • Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU)
  • PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA)
  • Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG)

For further information: MEDIA Coordination: Annie Chiasson,, +1 (506) 727-8160


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