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Federal Licences Infringe First Nations' Title & Rights

CANADA - The issuance of aquaculture licences on 18 December 2010 without meaningful First Nation consultation was a clear infringement on the rights and title of many British Columbian (BC) First Nations.

Since the BC Supreme Court Morton decision on February 9, 2009, the First Nation Fisheries Council (FNFC) has been working with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in an attempt to increase the opportunities for BC First Nations to contribute to, and participate in, the development of the new Pacific Aquaculture Regulations DFO, however, has moved forward and issued new federal aquaculture licenses without adequately consulting First Nations or meaningfully addressing their concerns

This has led the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-Kwa-Mish First Nation (KAFN) to file for a Judicial Review of the eight Finfish Aquaculture Licenses issued within their territories. The KAFN, who hold rights and title in the Broughton Archipelago, have repeatedly articulated that these licenses were issued with virtually zero consultation and/or accommodation, and therefore constitute an unjustified infringement to the rights of the KAFN people.

Ken Malloway, Co-Chair of the FNFC has said: "First Nations have received no information from DFO as to what licenses exist, or will be issued in their traditional territories. The issuance of licenses without meaningful consultation is a clear infringement of First Nations rights, and is a serious concern for many First Nations who have significant aquaculture activities occurring in their territories."

The FNFC supports BC First Nations in their struggle to protect their rights over their territories and resources. The FNFC continues to urge DFO to work with BC First Nations in a spirit that is consistent with recent court ruling and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Canada has recently adopted. "DFO must immediately work with the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-Kwa-Mish people to come to a workable solution that reflects Supreme Court Rulings and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is unacceptable for DFO to continue to infringe upon the rights of the Kwicksutaineuk Ah-Kwa-Mish people without adequate consultation and accommodation," said FNFC Co-Chair Ken Malloway.

the Fish Site Editor

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