Treaty arrangements regarding fish in British Columbia and Yukon
Among other things, fisheries chapters in modern First Nation treaties that have been negotiated to date articulate a fishing right and describe the role for First Nations in fisheries management.
The fishing right described in the final treaty agreement is protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The authority for fisheries management continues to lie with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
The following modern-day treaties contain fisheries provisions:
- Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement (1993)
- Nisga'a Final Agreement (effective May 11, 2000);
- Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement (effective April 3, 2009);
- Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement (effective April 1, 2011);
- Yale First Nation Final Agreement (effective date to be determined); and
- Tla'amin Final Agreement (effective April 5, 2016)
In addition to modern-day treaties, the following historic treaties in British Columbia also contain fisheries provisions:
Treaties in British Columbia
British Columbia is unique among the territories and provinces of Canada in that it has a large number of First Nations without treaties. Therefore, a specific process was developed following the recommendations of the BC Claims Task Force in 1991. The British Columbia Treaty Commission (BCTC) facilitates the six-stage treaty negotiation process. DFO participates in treaty negotiations, which are led by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Treaties will provide definition around the relationship between DFO and Aboriginal groups and provide greater certainty to all users of the fisheries resource.
For more information about the BC treaty process in general, check out the BC Treaty Commission website.
Treaties in Yukon
In Yukon, the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) between the Government of Canada, the Council for Yukon Indians and the Government of Yukon has been in effect since May 29, 1993. The UFA was established as a framework agreement for the negotiation of Final Agreements with Yukon's First Nations. Of the 14 Yukon First Nations three remain without modern day land claim agreements and three others have unsettled claims that reach into the northern part of British Columbia.
The Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee (YSSC) of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board was established under the UFA as a public advisory body. The role of the YSSC is to make recommendations, in the public interest, to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on matters related to salmon. The YSSC is comprised of Yukon First Nations, members of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and members of the public.
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