Ha-Shilth-Sa – Fisheries Act update lacks recognition of traditional rights, says First Nations council

While an update to Canada’s Fisheries Act is underway, recognition of aboriginal rights needs to be included in the legislation for it be modernized, says the First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. Under the previous governance of the Conservatives, changes were made to the Fisheries Act with two omnibus bills in 2012.

But after the shift of power to the Liberals, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau issued a directive to “review the previous government’s changes to the Fisheries Act, restore lost protections and incorporate modern safeguards.

” The past changes to the Fisheries Act could undermine traditional rights, said FNFC Executive Director Jordan Point in a media release issued in February. “One of the most critical issues with the 2012 changes was the introduction of problematic definitions,” he said.

“The definition of ‘aboriginal fisheries’ sought to reduce aboriginal fishing rights to simply a right to harvest, and the definition of ‘commercial fisheries’ created problems because under the omnibus bill changes, any aboriginal fishery for trade, sale or barter would be deemed a commercial fishery.”

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