Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement (FRRA) between Coastal First Nations and Canada
The Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement (FRRA), signed in July 2021, is a historic agreement between eight First Nations of the central and north coasts of British Columbia and Haida Gwaii, the Great Bear Initiative Society, and the Government of Canada.
The FRRA is the result of many years of discussions and includes three key elements:
- collaborative governance
- economic access
- community-based fisheries
In the spirit of reconciliation, through the FRRA, the signatories seek to advance a more collaborative, coordinated and efficient approach to the governance and management of fisheries resources between the eight First Nations and Canada. This agreement strengthens Canada’s and the First Nations’ commitment for a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This agreement will also improve economic access to fisheries and provide further opportunities for coastal First Nations communities to participate in the marine economy.
The Fisheries Resource Reconciliation Agreement is an agreement between:
- Council of Haida Nation
- Gitga’at First Nation
- Gitxaala Nation
- Heiltsuk Nation
- Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation
- Metlakatla First Nation
- Nuxalk Nation,
- Wuikinuxv Nation
- The Government of Canada, as represented by
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
- Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC)
- Great Bear Initiative Society
How it will work
All signatories to the Agreement are committed to working together collaboratively on a Nation-to-Nation, government-to-government basis. They will do this through consensus and will develop effective strategies for the management , conservation, and use of fisheries resources.
The FRRA sets up councils, at differing scales, that will work together across the geography of the north and central coast and Haida Gwaii. They will work together on improved fisheries management, science, monitoring and enforcement. These councils will also engage with the broader commercial and recreational fishing sectors.
FRRA councils will include the Joint Executive which will provide oversight and assistance with resolution of issues.
- North Coast, Central Coast and Haida Gwaii Sub-regional Management Councils will work on fisheries management issues at a sub-regional scale and direct technical work through subcommittees.
- North Coast: Metlakatla First Nation, Gitxaala Nation, Gitga’at First Nation, DFO
- Central Coast: Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Wuikinuxv Nation, DFO
- Haida Gwaii: Council of Haida Nation and DFO
- Bio-regional Management Council brings together the Sub-regional Management Councils to work on issues and initiatives that affect the whole North and Central Coast region. It will support engagement with non-signatory Nations, and recreational and commercial fisheries stakeholders.
- Engagement with other First Nations and stakeholders: Canada and the signatory Nations are committed to developing meaningful processes for the involvement of non-signatory Nations and stakeholders.
Fisheries economic access
Through the FRRA, Canada has provided financial support for Coastal First Nations to obtain commercial fisheries access – via commercial licences and quota – from willing third-party licence-holders. This access can be used in the coastwide commercial fishery as well as in developing community-based fisheries of the Nations. The Nations have created their own commercial fishing company – the Coastal Nations Commercial Fishing Limited Partnership —which will obtain fishing licenses and quotas for the Nations. In addition, a Coastal Nations Fisheries Trust has been established that will further support efforts to improve fisheries access for First Nations that are party to the agreement. These entities will work to support economic development for coastal communities, including employment opportunities.
Community Based Fishery
A portion of commercial fisheries access provided through the FRRA will go to Community Based Fisheries (CBFs). The CBFs support greater community participation in small-scale commercial fisheries by supporting new and existing fishers in:
- Acquiring fishing skills or expanding their fishing opportunities
- Generating income
- Improving access to commercial fishing for community members
Community Based Fisheries will include flexibility in how they operate and may require regulatory and policy reforms to support revitalized and sustainable community based commercial fisheries. CBFs management plans will be incorporated into the annual Integrated Fisheries Management Planning (IFMP) processes.
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