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Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association

 

For Immediate Release – Friday July 14, 2022 

 

The Federal government is also failing non-Indigenous fishers Senate Committee finds

 As one of two industry associations that presented to the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in June 2021, the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA) continues to have significant concerns around the lack of meaningful dialogue between Government, Industry and First Nations. 

 The release this week of the Senate report titled:  Peace on the Water: Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries  highlights some of these concerns from an Indigenous and non-Indigenous harvester perspective.

For the past four years the PEIFA, in collaboration with numerous other fishing organizations, have been advocating for a new dialogue model that would involve key stakeholders in the discussion on how rights-based fisheries can be integrated in a respectful, peaceful and inclusive manner.

The ten recommendations in the report require extensive tripartite dialogue to keep and maintain “peace on the water” and before any recommendations are implemented.

Of particular concern is the lack of focus on science-based conservation and a legal moderate livelihood definition which presents a significant issue as the lines between Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC), commercial communal and fishing for a moderate livelihood continue to be blurred. 

The development of separate fisheries is not the answer. 

To date, approximately one billion dollars has been spent to significantly increase First Nations participation in the fishery. 

The current premise of one license in one license out has kept equilibrium in the fishery and protected the resource. 

Requests for change have been met with no response or a lack of urgency by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In addition, fisheries are being activated with either no or extremely short-term agreements in place. This creates an environment of perpetual negotiation, uncertainty, and frustration for all harvesters.

The PEIFA has been advocating on key issues such as resource conservation, and how to create a model where both non – Indigenous and Indigenous fisheries are financially viable, and benefits are kept in their coastal communities.

Elected officials must heed the warning signs that the dialogue dysfunction cannot continue and that harvester groups need to be part of proposed changes that could have significant negative impact on the owner operator fishery.