Dossier / The Marshall Decision

The revolt against DFO

SHUNPIKING, December, 1999 / January, 2000
Volume 4, Number 31


Talk Shop?

HALIFAX -- MARK BUTLER (pictured, at left) of the Ecology Action Centre addresses the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which toured Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec in November.

This photo shows just five out of sixteen Members of Parliament present in the Victorian but virtually empty Imperial Ballroom at Halifax's Lord Nelson Hotel.

Two Reform MPs (Johm Cummins and John Duncan) returned to Ottawa at noon, November 23, for one day to vote against the Nisga Treaty.

The Committee, chaired by Liberal MP Wayne Easter of PEI, has produced eight all-party reports, such as The East Coast Report, March, 1998. This means all parties had agreed to them in committee.

But -- when tabled in the House of Commons -- they were arbitrarily voted down by the Liberal government. The Liberal MPs, from the very same Committee who had signed the reports in the first place, also voted against.

As a result, they gather dust, or remain in cyperspace (http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/parlbus/commbus/house/committeemain.asp?language=e&committeeid=61).


A travel budget of $123,018 did not include a simultaneous translation system, mileage for witnesses and the 14 carafés of coffee.
-Tony Seed

Selected excerpts from briefs to the Standing Committee On Fisheries

Arthur Bull, Chair, Coastal Communities Network, 23 November 1999
Bernd Christmas, Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, 25 October 1999
Graeme Gawn, Maritime Fishermen's Union, 25 October 1999

Ronnie Campbell, P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, 25 October 1999
Donnie Strongman, PEIFA
Reginald Comeau, Regional Coordinator, Maritime Fishermen's Union, 25 October 1999
Harold Theriault, president, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, 2 November 1999
Mark Butler, Marine Issues Committee at the Ecology Action Centre, Halifax, 24 November 1999
Larry Chartrand, past president, Indigenous Bar Association, 14 November 1999
Jeff Brownstein, president, Maritime Fishermen's Union, Local 6, 23 November 1999
Ashton Spinney, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, 2 November 1999



Arthur Bull, Chair, Coastal Communities Network, 23 November 1999

ON THE EVENING of October 22, 1999 almost 1,000 non-Native fishermen from Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 34 in a high-school auditorium in Yarmouth rose to their feet and gave a long and loud ovation for Chief Deborah Robinson, Chief of the Acadia Band, as she was introduced. The speech that followed, in which Chief Robinson outlined an agreement that had been reached on the LFA 34 lobster fishery, was interrupted several more times with standing ovations. To understand the importance of this moment, you have to grasp the intensity of the situation in the coastal communities of southwestern Nova Scotia during the five weeks since the Marshall Decision had been handed down... .

Such moments are defining moments, not just for their own importance as events, but for what they reveal. In itself, it was remarkable to see non-Native fishermen and Mi'kmaq leaders coming together in a show of good faith to reach an agreement to defuse an immediate crisis. But it was also revealing because of who was not present as agreement was reached: there were no national network television or radio crews, no politicians, no lawyers, no corporations, no officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Agreement had been reached through direct talks between elected leaders of non-Native fishermen and Mi'kmaq communities. This fact in itself tells us something about the post-Marshall crisis and how we as rural and small-town Nova Scotians should approach it.

Great upheavals, such as the one that hit Atlantic Canada in the wake of the Marshall Decision, always have a way of revealing things about the interests and biases of all the groups involved. They seem to scrape away a top layer of social interaction that covers up normally hidden attitudes and assumptions, exposing them to open sunlight. It is worthwhile to reflect on what can be learned from these crises. Of course, it is still too early to say anything definitive about the situation or to assess the final impact of the Marshall Decision on Native and non-Native communities in Nova Scotia. But it might be useful to take a look at some of the things that were revealed in the fall of 1999. This is by no means an attempt to address all the substantive issues raised by the Marshall Decision. Neither is it a final comment on any of the principal players in the crisis. Rather, it is simply a reflection on some of the lessons learned by someone who was close to the situation as it evolved.

This crisis revealed some important things about organizations that played secondary but important roles in the crisis the press, the political parties, the government bureaucracies, and others. Although none of these groups seemed to play a central role, they all influenced the situation in critical ways and, in doing so, revealed something about themselves.

The media has unquestionably played a major role in the crisis. From the beginning, words and images of Burnt Church, Yarmouth, and elsewhere served to heighten a sense of emergency. It is always interesting to observe how the media portrays an event we ourselves are involved in, to see how far the media "reality" is from what people actually experience. In the case of the post-Marshall crisis, many fishermen felt that media coverage was irresponsible and inaccurate. We have talked to a number of fishermen's representatives who gave media interviews that seemed to be solely aimed at getting them to say something inflammatory. In some cases, interviews were ended abruptly when it become clear that no threats of violence were going to be made. How many times did we watch the same images of angry pushing and arguing on the Burnt Church wharf, even weeks after it had happened? Of course, there was some good reporting, but more often than not, the most inflammatory statements by unelected individuals were the ones that made it into the headlines and sound bites. Examples of cooperation, dialogue, and leadership were hardly noticed in the press. And, perhaps more important, the media did little to facilitate debate and discussion, opting instead to focus on confrontation and conflict -- the kind of exchanges that, as they say, generate more heat than light.

"It was just like yelling 'Fire!' in a theatre. I've never seen such blatant political opportunism..."

Politicians also played an interesting role ... One example stands out particularly: the politicians and political organizers from British Columbia who came to Yarmouth soon after the Decision and made extremely inflammatory statements at a mass meeting of fishermen. Considering the level of fear, uncertainty, and anger in the room at the time, it was just like yelling "Fire!" in a theatre. I've never seen such blatant political opportunism... .

Of course, DFO would be expected to be the main player in a fisheries crisis of this scale, but since it was most conspicuous by its absence, it too must be included as a secondary player. Questions about DFO's role have been loudly raised and will continue to be raised. Why was it so totally unprepared? When the Mi'kmaq leadership knocked on DFO's door in February, 1999 to discuss the possible ramifications of a favourable ruling, that knock went unanswered. ... Certainly these questions will have to be addressed. For many fishermen, DFO's actions seemed to fit a familiar pattern: first allow a situation to unravel, then declare disaster, then determine that there is no consensus, and finally, impose a solution that fits DFO's corporate agenda. This pattern of DFO behaviour is familiar to most Atlantic fishermen, given that this corporate agenda has ruled DFO for the last twenty years. It is hard to believe that such a Machiavellian approach could be taken in the face of such a serious human emergency, but it is a measure of the low level of trust in DFO that many fishermen believed it to be true. And rumours that senior DFO officials were considering placing a Total Allowable Catch on lobster as part of a DFO "solution" only served to further inflame feelings. At the same time, it must be said that area-level DFO staff showed a high degree of leadership and professionalism throughout the crisis, much to their credit.

The fact that DFO has not played a major role may point to a newly emerging relationship among fishermen, their communities, and the federal government, a relationship that is more like a working partnership than what we have known in the past. This kind of re-defined relationship is long overdue.... Of course, this does not discount the fact that the federal government has a very real responsibility to ensure that the brunt of the Marshall Decisions effects does not fall on the inshore fishermen and their communities. The creation of modest livelihoods in Mi'kmaq communities must happen, but not at the expense of modest livelihoods in Nova Scotia's other coastal communities. The federal government must implement all the fiscal measures necessary to ensure that this does not happen, including voluntary buy-back programs and other financial compensation. This is one position that all concerned parties in Nova Scotia can agree on.

So, what are the lessons to be learned from the fall of 1999? At a minimum, we can conclude that the media is usually sensationalistic, politicians are often opportunistic, and DFO is negligent and even at times manipulative. "So what else is new?" we might ask. For most of us, these are not great revelations. But neither have corporate interests, the legal community, and a whole list of other groups contributed in any positive way to resolution of this crisis. And, however negative or unhelpful the roles of these various players, there is one really important lesson to be learned from the events of the past several weeks as we move to work our way toward the post-Marshall future: it is the people centrally involved, the fishermen, the communities, both Mi'kmaq and non-Native, who have both the responsibility and the wherewithal to reach solutions.

All of which brings us back to that meeting in Yarmouth and the LFA 34 agreement. It was reached through face-to-face talks that built mutual trust, understanding and, respect. These meetings were direct talks, without intermediaries. Some of the non-Native fishermen's groups involved had also been holding discussions for almost two years with the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission about the food fishery. A year before, all lfa 34 groups had formally recognised this organization as the primary authority in the First Nations fisheries. All this dialogue, along with the leadership shown by lfa 34 representatives, Chief Robinson, and Chief Meuse of the Bear River Band, paved the way for at least a short-term solution to this crisis.

For me, this is the key lesson learned so far from the post-Marshall situation: that Mi'kmaq and non-Native inshore fishermen share common ground, and their elected representatives can work out positive solutions. We share common ground concerning our desire for livelihoods, viable and sustainable communities, and community stewardship of natural resources. We also share common ground in our common history. After all, we have been here together in Nova Scotia for almost 400 years. Especially in the first half of this period, it was the interaction of all our peoples. Acadian, Mi'kmaq, English and others that laid the foundations of modern Nova Scotia. Finally, we share common ground in the most literal sense that is, we live in this place together, and since none of us are going anywhere, our descendants will be living together for some time to come. It is only natural that dialogue, based on mutual respect, should be the way we address our common issues and challenges. This process has to happen directly between Native and non-Native fishermen and their communities -- no lawyers, no politicians, no mediators, no corporations, no media, no DFO -- just people directly involved talking face to face.

As Mi'kmaq communities enter the fishery, we hope they will bring with them the values that conserved and protected Nova Scotia's natural resources for thousands of years. Many fishermen's organizations and their communities have been working to define new values to guide the fisheries of the future. We need and welcome Mi'kmaq traditional values to help guide us in creating a new fishery for the future of Nova Scotia. This is going to require a lot of hard work, a lot of learning, and, above all, a lot of listening. Now that we have survived the difficult crisis of the fall of 1999, it is time to get on with this work. We believe that this is the way to move forward, to take care of our fisheries for the sake of our grandchildren and their communities, for tomorrow, for the coming years, and for future generations.

* * * * *

Bernd Christmas, Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs, 25 October 1999

I WAS THERE. It was February 18, 1999, that we approached DFO regarding the Marshall case. We put forth a document, a position. It contained three phases.

The first phase was to do an analysis and a complete examination of how many Mi'kmaq fishermen, if I can use that term, are engaged in the fishing activities. That includes bands as well, because there are some bands that have operations on behalf of the community.

The second phase was to develop a communication and consultation mechanism, communication with the fishing community and other government departments, along with an education-type process.

The third phase of that would have been to develop a five-year Mi'kmaq commercial fishery management plan between the Mi'kmaq people in conjunction with, and based on consultations gleaned from, the fishing groups and the fishing communities themselves, DFO, and the Province of Nova Scotia.

At that table we had invited Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Province of Nova Scotia. We had our representatives there as well. We met February 18 and the next week, around February 25, and then twice in March, again trying to push this further.

We then brought it up another notch -- a more political notch, as we call it -- in a process known as the Mi'kmaq-Canada-Nova Scotia tripartite forum...

In that it was stopped there again by "the process," you have to remember that in this process there has to be a consensus amongst the three parties before something moves forward. Unfortunately, the Province of Nova Scotia at a June 1 meeting didn't want to move forward with this decision and this plan.

So not having been deterred, or not taking it as a setback, we proceeded to bring it up again at the same forum after doing some more discussions on, ironically, September 16, the day before the Marshall decision came down. Again it was stopped. Both Canada and Nova Scotia didn't feel comfortable and didn't want to move forward. After Marshall, as I said already in my opening remarks, we had to move forward. The Mi'kmaq people themselves had to move forward. In essence, we had to start working that plan on our own. We're still trying to make sure that the government, the province, and the fishing sector wish to be active and willing participants.

* * *

I didn't agree to the seasons, as I think you are alluding to. I said that we will negotiate the rules and agree to the rules, one set of rules, if there are good faith negotiations. If that includes seasons, well, possibly, but again, I want to stress at this point that we will agree to one set of rules -- not the status quo right now -- if there are good faith negotiations on the part of the Government of Canada.

* * *

Yes, if there are corporate interests indicating that they're going to protect this three-mile limit, I can tell you right now that the Mi'kmaq people are in fact gearing up for offshore activity. We will enter the offshore lobster fishery. We will enter the offshore scallop fishery. We will enter the offshore snow crab fishery. If someone is going to try to use the argument that three miles is the limit for this treaty right, all we suggest is that they had better find out what Canada's limit is right now. We understand that its 200 miles. As far as we're concerned, ours goes out as far.

* * *

"... if there was as much outcry about foreign fishing as there is about people living in Canada, maybe we would be able to deal with this issue in a more understanding manner"

There are a lot of other players on the scene that there hasn't been that much mention about. We talked a lot about foreign fishing off the coast of Canada. When you talk about putting things into perspective, how do you think we can also make people understand that there are other players and tell them what percentage of the fish is being caught by foreign fisheries versus what the aboriginal people are asking for? I would just like to comment that if there was as much outcry about foreign fishing as there is about people living in Canada, maybe we would be able to deal with this issue in a more understanding manner.

* * * * *

Graeme Gawn, Maritime Fishermen's Union, 25 October 1999

OUR MEMBERS feel that the Marshall ruling has proven, apart from the rights of the native people to have access to the fishery, that the DFO in the past 20 years or so has been busy allocating fish that it didn't own to people who had no right to it....

So far the Marshall ruling has been portrayed as the ruling on lobster fishing, and it's clearly not so. We agree with the chiefs and with Mr. Christmas that this is more far-reaching than just the inshore lobster fishery. It shows it's time for an overhaul of DFO's policies, long past time to remove the top bureaucrats who have guided the fiasco over the past 20 years and are still there on the same course in spite of the overwhelming evidence that they're doing things wrong. The evidence is coming from all corners.

As far as coming to agreements with the Mi'kmaq at a community level is concerned, it's not a problem. We identify very closely with other working class people in our coastal communities ...

In one respect we're happy that the Marshall ruling has vindicated our position that DFO has been doing the wrong things with the fishery, and now it's time to set things straight ...

As far as having the resources is concerned, we probably don't have adequate resources. We probably don't have adequate leadership from our government, which is supposed to be a government for us, and which I would say often seems to be more of an adversary to us, and I think the inshore fishermen community on the east coast has survived in spite of DFO rather than because of it.

* * * * *

Reginald Comeau, Regional Coordinator, Maritime Fishermen's Union, 25 October 1999

IF DFO will permit us to get into an integrated management zone, I think the natives will sit with us and we will arrive at a proper solution here. As I said in my statement, we proposed something of that regard last winter and DFO just laughed at us. ... That's where we are with DFO. The problem seems to be in Ottawa. They don't seem to understand that it's possible to have people of different nationalities sitting around the table to develop a comprehensive plan, but they don't want us to do that because they are afraid of losing power over that.

* * * * *

Ronnie Campbell, P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, 25 October 1999

GENERATIONS AGO our forefathers took this land by force. People from this country's First Nations were not treated as equals. Today the people of Canada recognize this national shame and seek to redress over 200 years of unfair treatment. Today the fishermen of Atlantic Canada are challenged to share dwindling resources so that residents of our First Nations can become our partners. This was, I believe, the intent of the Supreme Court decision.

The time has come to even the score, but let's be sure that it truly becomes even. We cannot ask or expect that the people from the most economically disadvantaged part of Canada will carry all of the compensation for our country.

* * * * *

Donnie Strongman, PEIFA

I DO FISH in Malpeque Bay during the spring season with natives who fish now under a communal licence. It's the next thing to a perfect relationship. There are no problems. There's no cutting of gear. It's a really good situation, as it is during the commercial season.

* * * * *

Harold Theriault, president, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, 2 November 1999


I'LL GIVE you my version. My personal belief is that we're not going to have a great impact on the native fishermen.... You don't become a fisherman overnight. I'm a thirteenth-generation fisherman. If you're not born into or brought up in a fishery, you just don't say out of the blue that you're a fisher.

"I really don't know what the big fear is here"


I really don't know what the big fear is here. I have no real big fear myself. I believe we can set home and deal with the two or three local chiefs that we have to deal with and not see a big impact on the inshore fishery or the offshore fishery -- from fishermen. There could be a big impact from lawyers, like you speak of.

Corporations, I believe, are worried about a big impact from the lawyers' side for the Mi'kmaq people, going after the same quota or whatever but, as inshore fishermen, we feel the natives have the right to have a few people work into the fishery -- and we may even have to train them to become some kind of fishermen.

It's a hard thing to do to train a person to become a fisherman, unless you're born and brought up into it, and I'm not sure ... I'm sure there's not one in this room that is a fisherman; I mean, there are only two in this room that can speak to that.

* * * * *

Mark Butler, Marine Issues Committee at the Ecology Action Centre, Halifax, 24 November 1999

MY NAME IS Mark Butler and I am the Coordinator of the Marine Issues Committee at the Ecology Action Centre. The Centre was founded in 1971 and today has over 450 members. The goal of the Marine Issues Committee is to promote marine conservation and sustainable ocean-based livelihoods. This goal informs what we do and I hope it informs what I say today. I would like to note that my ability to speak knowledgeably on native-non-native relations is constrained by my limited understanding of Mi'kmaq culture and history and the history of the relationship between Mi'kmaq and non-natives over the last 400 years. A deficiency which I am trying to rectify.

We recognize and welcome the Supreme Court judgment of September 17th, 1999. We support measures that provide the First Nations of Atlantic Canada with economic independence. We also support the entry of First Nations into other sectors of the fishery, into wood cutting, and into the exploitation of non-renewable resources.

The entry of the First Nations into the fishery should not be, and need not be, at the expense of the people already in the fishery or of the environment. There are solutions and natives and non-natives, as a result of talking to each other, have already identified and implemented some of these solutions. We do regret that one of the few fisheries that remains ecologically sound and socio-economically sound, the inshore lobster fishery, is taking the brunt of the Supreme Court's Decision. One of the reasons we support the entry of the Mi'kmaq into other fisheries and other industries, e.g. forestry, is to take some pressure of the inshore lobster fishery.

"DFO, in particular in the Scotia-Fundy Region, has been promoting policies which have concentrated ownership and wealth in the fisheries in fewer and fewer hands"

It is not possible to talk about how to respond to the Supreme Court's judgment without first acknowledging the state of Atlantic Canadian fisheries today. Since the Marshall decision everybody is talking conservation. Let's talk conservation. Is it conservative to drag through deep sea corals, some perhaps several thousand years old? Is it conservative to continue to promote a management system, namely individual transferable quotas, which particularly in a multi-species fishery, results in dumping and highgrading? Is it conservative to open up nearly all of offshore(and now onshore) Atlantic Canada to an industry that dumps oily drill cuttings and oily water over the side? These practices are going on right now in waters off our coasts.

In the wake of the Marshall judgment people have also been talking about fairness in the fisheries. In the last 20 years DFO, in particular in the Scotia-Fundy Region, has been promoting policies which have concentrated ownership and wealth in the fisheries in fewer and fewer hands. I understand that the Department is so proud of its achievements that recently two DFO officials traveled to Australia to give a mini-course to other countries on how to implement property rights or ITQs. Is this a good use of taxpayers' money at the present time? We believe that the government does not have a right to privatize what is considered a public resource. (Of course, in reality that nobody owns the fish swimming in the ocean.) What about the Marshall decision and privatization and ITQs? At a minimum, as a result of the Marshall decision, the government now has an obligation to consult with the First Nations before proceeding with any privatization schemes.

These criticisms of certain officials in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and of powerful players in the fishery are not new and have been repeated so many times that most people don't have the energy to repeat them anymore. When so many fisheries collapsed in the early 1990's there should have been a public enquiry, for the benefit of the fish, the fishing industry, and DFO. There wasn't. This year, for the first time, since the closure of so many fisheries, DFO announced an Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review. However, this Review is not about fixing the fisheries, its about enshrining the status quo. I quote from the letter sent out by David Anderson in May, 1999: DFO is not proposing sudden or sweeping change. Our objectives are: to consolidate those objectives already being pursued by the department:... Essentially, what DFO is saying here is that they are not interested in fixing, in improving the fishery. They are not interested in the truth.

"Powerful people in the Department will oppose any real change in DFO policies ..."

Despite devoting most of my time today to talking about DFO, I think it is largely a waste of time. Powerful people in the Department will oppose any real change in DFO policies and no Minister has yet shown any ability to reform the Department. (I would like to note that there are people in DFO doing good work, particularly at the ground level.) Change will largely come from without, and in spite of DFO. The Marshall decision is a good example. The reason I have focused on the state of the fishery today and DFO's performance is because when we discuss conservation and fairness in regards to the Marshall decision let's not forget what has happened in the fishery over the last 40 years and what is happening today.

To answer some of your questions regarding the future management of the fishery in light of the Marshall judgment. In terms of management structures, what we would recommend, where appropriate, is local, community-based decision making. The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs has adopted this approach. This approach would make a lot of sense in the lobster fishery and indeed we see it working in a number of places. What will not work is for DFO to say to the Burnt Church Band you can fish 1000 traps and non-native fishermen you keep fishing under the existing rules. That top down approach will not please anyone. If people are going to live alongside each other, and fish alongside each other, the only realistic solution is that those people must reach agreement amongst themselves.

* * * * *

Larry Chartrand, past president, Indigenous Bar Association, 14 November 1999

ONE MOST important thing to remember, I think, when we're talking about treaties or negotiations with aboriginal peoples and the crown is that we're not talking about the establishment of rights based on racial grounds or cultural differences. We're talking about rights that are based on a negotiation with a distinct, autonomous, political community -- in this case, the Mi'kmaq, the Maliseet and the Passamaquoddy nations. This is how their rights ought to be interpreted: as political rights, not as cultural rights or racial rights that happen to be possessed by distinct peoples.

I say that because one of the implications of this is the fact that a Mi'kmaq person, a person who belongs to a Mi'kmaq band, may not necessarily be Mi'kmaq in blood or have any ancestral origins in terms of Mi'kmaq ancestry. The person could in fact be a non-aboriginal, European-based person who was adopted into the Mi'kmaq community by the laws of the Mi'kmaq Nation or the customs of the Mi'kmaq Nation. That person could equally practise the treaty rights of that collective community if that person indeed was accepted as a member of the Mi'kmaq community.

It's political rights. It's not necessarily racial and it's not necessarily cultural. That's the first point I wanted to make. The second point is that these treaties, from the indigenous perspective, are international treaties in the true sense of the term. Aboriginal people have always maintained that the negotiations with the British crown have always been undertaken on a nation-to-nation basis, and they continue to maintain that.

It's only the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada has interpreted the treaties as sui generis that has rendered them subject to domestic law and domestic interpretation and, as a result, has taken away their international legal significance. This approach by the Supreme Court of Canada in this interpretation of treaties by aboriginal peoples is not consistent with international law.

* * * * *

Jeff Brownstein, president, Maritime Fishermen's Union, Local 6, 23 November 1999

PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP are obviously urgent. We have had good relations in the past in our area, and we hope to build on that. We have to understand each others' points of view and be willing to work together. From our point of view, we are involved in fisheries that are highly regulated, and we would feel threatened by others fishing in different seasons and/or with different rules.

The community base in this case is Cape Breton Island. While DFO splits us into the Gulf and Scotia Fundy regions and sends us to meetings in Moncton and Halifax, we agree with the five bands in Cape Breton that there should be one master plan for what the Mi'kmaq call Unama'ki, which is Cape Breton. We should meet in Cape Breton, and our decisions should be made there. If there are either commercial fishermen or native fishermen from outside Cape Breton who wish to fish our waters, then they should abide by our plans...

Strong organizations that can work together are essential on the part of both the natives and the commercial fishermen. Never was the need for appropriate representation and good leadership more urgent than now. Fishermen must voice their concerns and get their information from organizations that are democratically accountable and have the necessary resources and experience.

Native leaders must be able to speak for their people. Their rights being communal really simplifies matters and is to be respected if the leaders of native bands really want to see their communities gain as a whole, rather than a very few individuals. Inshore fishermen's organizations have been struggling for years for the survival, not of a few individuals, but of our communities.
Another point about organizations is that inshore fishermen's organizations and first nations organizations are based on broad-based fishing communities, not according to species or gear type. We have spoken in our area of the need for basic policies and understanding first of the fisheries in general. Only after the basic framework is in place do we talk about specific fisheries. In this way, we can be real partners in co-management, not just mere adversaries at the table, arguing allocation.

In the end, DFO must enforce the fishery overall and look out for conservation. They should support us when we work together and not try to lead us in other directions. Local negotiations can be highly successful if the regulations are clear and conservation comes first. Then DFO can enforce with all of our blessings.

My point about the crown assuming responsibility should be clear enough. The treaties were signed by the crown, not the local commercial fishermen. We want to try to accommodate the native peoples, but everyone knows too well that no fishery can withstand additional effort right now.

In my area, it was the fishermen who realized there was a problem in the lobster fishery and that we had to do something. So the fishermen in Sydney Bight voted 75 per cent in favour of increasing the minimum size of lobster we could take in order to conserve the stocks. This happened before then Minister Anderson decreed the need to double egg production in each lobster fishing area. Our fishermen already knew we had to do something and had done it ourselves.

* * * * *

Ashton Spinney, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, 2 November 1999

WE HAVE a problem in lobster too. Last year we had area 41, which was really a political decision that was put in place some years ago, when they took out the swordfish longline and they put in offshore lobster. It has developed so that now we have eight licence holders, and they have an enterprise allocation. Their approach is that they own this. We do not see that any one individual has the right to own the stock. They have the right to fish the stock, and to that amount, but not to be able to determine that no one else can have access because they own it. That seems to be the attitude that we hear, and we're concerned about that.

Our concern also is that these people are fishing the same stocks we fish, so they should follow under the same umbrella that we do.

Like my dad here, I've been involved in the fishery directly for 35 years, and there were lots of tough years. As little as eight, nine, and ten years ago it was fairly rugged too. Fishermen are not the new elite of this nation, and in many cases they are still struggling for their survival. Around home the lobster fishery, for one fishery, is very poor in certain areas.


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