Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 30, 2007 08:21 ET

The Government of Canada Sets the Stage for an Integrated Commercial Fishery on Canada's East Coast

MIRAMICHI, NEW BRUNSWICK--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2007) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and non-Status Indians, today announced, on behalf of the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, a new initiative that aims to fully integrate commercial fisheries in Atlantic Canada.

Minister Strahl made the announcement while celebrating the signing of a Specific Claims Agreement with the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation in New Brunswick.

"This funding will allow our government to help First Nations play a growing role in the Atlantic fishery, while working together to ensure the resource is properly managed and protected," said Minister Strahl. "This program sets the stage for fully integrated commercial fisheries in Atlantic Canada, and will enable all participants to work cooperatively to achieve long-term sustainability."

Budget 2007 announced $20 million over 2 years to support capacity building in Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in the Maritimes and Gaspe Region of Quebec (MMFNs) commercial fishing enterprises. Since then, the government has been consulting MMFN stakeholders about the program's design, leading to today's announcement that the new initiative is ready for implementation.

The new funding will assist participating communities in developing the business knowledge, skills, and resources to make full use of existing access and to participate equally in fisheries co-management.

Achieving a sustainable, integrated and orderly commercial fishery on Canada's east coast, in which all commercial participants fish under common and transparent rules, is important to the federal government.

"Our government is working hard to ensuring that the rules and regulations are clear and understood by everyone," added Minister Strahl.

Chief Noah Augustine, Metepenagiag First Nation, NB and Chief Lawrence Paul, Millbrook First Nation, NS, co-chairs of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs welcomed the announcement.

"Assistance and support with capacity building on the business side of commercial fishing will do a great deal to assist our communities to have a key place in the Atlantic fishery for the long term," said Chief Lawrence Paul.

"Our communities have learned invaluable lessons over the past number of years in the commercial fishery and clearly it is a business and we need to focus our efforts to strengthen our capacity to be key players now and in the future," added Chief Noah Augustine.

The AICFI initiative complements existing Government of Canada programming and is consistent with the commitment made in the 2007 Budget.



The Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (AICFI) was announced in Budget 2007. This program aims to ensure that Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in the Maritimes and Gaspe Region of Quebec (MMFNs) have the capabilities to manage and maximize access to the integrated commercial fishery that has been provided through the Marshall Response Initiative.

The new program will assist MMFNs to continue building their capacity, to plan and manage successful commercial fishing enterprises and to participate in fisheries co-management.

Specifically the new funding of $20 million over two years will provide support for:

- Enhancing management, administrative and operations capacity that will help build and maximize access to the integrated commercial fishery;

- Participation in the co-management of the integrated commercial fishery;

- Application of the electronic Fisheries Management System;

- Involvement with and direction of ongoing at-sea and in-class training/mentoring and other capacity building activities;

- Existing commercial fishing enterprise diversification through minor upgrades to fisheries infrastructure (vessel upgrade, harvesting and onshore equipment improvements) and other needs.

The Atlantic Policy Congress and watershed-based groups will facilitate a large part of the program's capacity-building activities.

A further goal of the AICFI initiative is to continue to create positive conditions for longer term arrangements with MMFNs under the process led by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Marshall case in 1999 affects 34 MMFN in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. One result of the federal response was that many communities initiated or expanded their involvement in the commercial fisheries. MMFNs now hold an estimated 1300 commercial fishing licences, constituting 520 fishing enterprises.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Phil Jenkins
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse, Director of Communications