After years of difficulties with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), our Nations won a major victory this spring when DFO agreed to suspend the 2018 commercial herring roe fishery across the Central Coast.
Central Coast herring populations have seen major declines from industrial fishing practices. The Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nations have each taken their own initiatives to help protect herring and uphold their Indigenous rights with respect to this resource.
For their part, DFO has recently showed a new willingness to engage with our Nations on this issue. In a Fishery Notice on their website about the decision to suspend this fishery, DFO’s Herring Resource Manager, Victoria Postlethwaite, writes:
“In order to support the government’s reconciliation agenda, including supporting co-management of fishery resources, taking into account the Heiltsuk’s traditional knowledge of the ecosystem, and given the Department’s risk of being unable to ensure orderly and well managed fisheries, DFO has agreed to suspend the roe herring fishery in the Central Coast for 2018. DFO will continue to collaboratively engage Heiltsuk in decisions about the Central Coast herring fishery.”
“In order to support the government’s reconciliation agenda, including supporting co-management of fishery resources… DFO has agreed to suspend the roe herring fishery in the Central Coast for 2018.” Fisheries and Oceans Canada.”
This kind of dialogue gives our all Nations hope that we may be heading towards true co-management of fisheries in our territories; something we have been working towards for a long time.
Heiltsuk Chief Councilor, Marilyn Slett, is encouraged by this development. In a press release she said, “With this decision, DFO has taken an encouraging concrete step to show that it is serious about reconciliation. We applaud DFO’s recognition of Heiltsuk traditional knowledge and their desire to support co-management of fisheries with us. We hope this is indicative of times to come.”
Photo credit: Ian McAllister/Pacific Wild