Pacific salmon and Indigenous fisheries

Through consultation, cooperative management and stewardship activities, we work with Indigenous people to build strong, healthy relationships and sustainable fisheries

Although the Pacific coast provided a diversity of resources, historically salmon were the staple of many First Nations people inhabiting the region. The archaeological record indicates that many permanent village sites were situated adjacent to the main salmon producing streams or rivers, and that salmon were central to Aboriginal communities in terms of culture, trade and sustenance. Salmon continues to be an important resource in Indigenous communities today.

In 1992 the Department initiated the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) in response to a Supreme Court ruling which affirmed the right of First Nations people to fish for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes.

Today, FSC fisheries have first priority to access fish after conservation. Harvest opportunities are developed through consultation with Indigenous communities, and then authorized via a Communal Licence. The First Nation in turn may issue designations to individual members, authorizing them to fish for the group. Many Indigenous individuals also participate in the commercial fisheries through commercial licences or participation in economic opportunity and demonstration fisheries and harvests at some hatcheries where surplus stocks not required for enhancement are made available to First Nations.

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