Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine Calls on Department of Fisheries to work in partnership with First Nations to ensure a sustainable and healthy BC salmon fishery



    OTTAWA, Aug. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - First Nations of the Lower Fraser, along
with other First Nations throughout the Fraser Basin, have been informed by
the federal government that that there should be no commercial or sport
allocations until First Nations have exercised its aboriginal right to fish.
However, both the Musqueam and the Sto:Lo Tribal Council say sports and
commercial fisheries have not been curtailed.
    "On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), I would like to offer
our support for the position taken by First Nations directly affected by
recent management decisions concerning Fraser River Sockeye Salmon, made by
the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Pacific Region," said National Chief
Phil Fontaine. "We are in support of First Nations statements that "the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans' attempts to keep the First Nations off the
fishing grounds are a violation of a Supreme Court of Canada decision."
    The high court's 1990 decision upheld the band's right to fish for food,
social and ceremonial purposes.
    "I would like to strongly urge the government to make a concerted effort
to fully understand the serious effects of a decision to allow a continuance
of the recreational fisheries that is neither managed nor adequately regulated
to ensure enforcement," said National Chief Fontaine. "First Nations peoples
are not out on the waters for recreational activities or weekend diversionary
excursions. First Nations people now stand the bleak prospect of having to
forego their subsistence food fishery and now be reliant upon other
alternative sources based upon one of the lowest standards of living found in
Canada today."
    AFN BC Regional Chief Shawn Atleo, chair of the Chiefs Committee on
Fisheries, pointed out that First Nations are painfully aware that the Fraser
River Sockeye abundance forecast of 6.4 million sockeye returning to the
Fraser River by DFO did not materialize this summer.
    "This fact has resulted in the Fraser Panel revising their estimates.
They now believe that the abundance of Sockeye is tracking at approximately
25% of the forecasted return," said Regional Chief Atleo. "First Nations
throughout the Fraser River basin, and within neighbouring Coastal
communities, are again going to be forced to subsidize the Government of
Canada's failure to manage this valuable resource in a manner that is
sustainable, equitable and reflective of the Constitution of Canada in regards
to priority access."
    "These types of management practices are detrimental to the future
viability of these sockeye runs, and further erode confidence in the ability
to manage and only encourage further acts of protest involving a dangerously
weakened stock," added Regional Chief Atleo.
    "We call on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to work in full
partnership with First Nations to ensure a sustainable and healthy future of
aquatic species is enjoyed by future generations," concluded National Chief
Fontaine.

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications,
(613) 241-6789 ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, bhendry@afn.ca; Josee Bellemare,
Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext. 336, cell (613)
327-6331, jbellemare@afn.ca; Chris Lewis, Lands and Resources Policy Analyst,
BC Assembly of First Nations, (604) 922-7733, Cell: (604) 789-8164,
fisheries@bcafn.ca


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