Aboriginal fish plans deserve notice

Miramachi Leader
Friday, July 6, 2001

Aboriginal fishers from several First Nations in Atlantic Canada have developed conservation and management plans which they see as models for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). But the DFO is not ready to consider their plans. In the midst of the lobster fishing conflict at Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church NB) last year, Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal admitted that he had not even read Esgenoopetitj First Nation’s fisheries management plan. Aboriginal communities seek out “best practices” using firsthand experience, traditional knowledge, and advice from university and government scientists. As a result, the St. Mary’s Bay Management Plan, prepared by Indian Brook First Nation in Nova Scotia, has more stringent restrictions on lobster sizes than in the DFO’s regulations. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Lena Siegers says, “The DFO should stop fearing Aboriginal fishers. In their management plans and in their work towards selfdetermination, they provide a model that DFO workers could learn from — if they are willing to listen and work with Aboriginal people.” CPT has maintained a violence-reduction presence in the Maritimes since April 2000 at the invitation of aboriginal lobster fishers. 

Doug Pritchard
Canada Coordinator
Christian Peacemaker Teams