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Canadian Government Signs Fisheries Agreement with First Nations

27 September 2013

CANADA - Leaders of the British Columbia (BC) Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of BC Indian Chiefs have signed a First Nations Fisheries Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The MOU establishes and defines a collaborative relationship to achieve concrete outcomes that are mutually beneficial to all Parties, and supports the aspirations of First Nations in BC, through establishing a joint dialogue process regarding general and specific issues related to fisheries and aquatic resources in BC.

“We are pleased that we have finally signed this important MOU, which has been in development for more than a year,” said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit political executive.

“Fisheries issues are critical to First Nations in BC. This MOU provides a much needed mechanism that will provide opportunities to discuss key fisheries and aquaculture issues and will hopefully lead to collaborative efforts to achieve concrete outcomes that are not only mutually beneficial, but also address the aspirations and needs of First Nations in BC.”

“First Nations in BC, concerned about the health and vitality of fisheries, continue to look for opportunities to work jointly with other governments on improved fisheries management. Unilateral legislative development is not acceptable. First Nations and indeed many Canadians stood together last year in opposition to unilaterally developed omnibus Bills C-38 and C-45,” stated BCAFN regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.

“Past Fisheries Ministers have committed to robust consultation with First Nations and I am encouraged by this step towards improved relations. DFO's commitment to high level political engagement with First Nations is critical to work jointly through the challenging issues, including legislative and regulatory changes, facing our communities."

“It has been nearly one year since the Cohen Commission final report was tabled and we have yet to see an official response to the report’s recommendations from Canada,” Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“Commissioner Cohen made 75 recommendations with respect to the protection and conservation of wild salmon. We fully expect that, under this MOU, we will finally be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue with DFO and the federal government on how they intend to make the necessary investments in the protection of wild salmon as prescribed in Commissioner Cohen’s recommendations.”

Under the three year term of the MOU (September 2013 – September 2016), the Parties agree to hold meetings involving political representative(s), and officials where appropriate at least twice annually to identify priority issues and establish a mutual agenda; discuss the effective implementation of relevant court decisions; determine and direct follow-up work to be jointly undertaken regarding the priority issues and to advance the mutual agenda; and discuss any other issues related to the implementation of the MOU.

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