A key objective identified in the BC First Nations Fisheries Action Plan and the FNFC’s mandate is the development of a BC-wide fisheries co-management framework. BC First Nations have indicated that their Title and Rights include a right and obligation to play a key role in natural resource management within their territories. This vision of co-management is one that actively engages and accommodates First Nations’ roles in fisheries and aquatic resource management and decision making processes.
Co-management has been put forward by both First Nations and DFO as a mechanism through which First Nations’ Title and Rights can be reconciled with current governance structures and processes. Academics and practitioners have advocated for a culture of change that involves “aspects of democratization, social empowerment, power sharing and decentralization. Co-management attempts to overcome the distrust, corruption, fragmentation, and inefficiency of existing fisheries management arrangements through collaboration.”
The FNFC has worked to develop and support co-management arrangements that advance government-to-government relationships between First Nations and the Government of Canada on fisheries. We have undertaken this work in the interest of promoting shared responsibility and enduring partnerships that recognize and respect First Nations jurisdiction, management authority, and responsibilities.
Through a series of co-management workshops and meetings held in 2010 and 2011, the FNFC worked with First Nations to develop the following collaborative management principles which continue to guide the work of the FNFC and our engagement with government:
1. Aboriginal Title and Rights and Treaty Rights must be recognized and respected as a fundamental principle in all aspects of governance and management processes.
2. First Nations jurisdiction and authority arise from prior use and occupation of the land and marine spaces, and include rights to use and manage fisheries and aquatic resources.
3. Meaningful engagement, consultation and accommodation of First Nations and their rights is a constitutional obligation of the Crown and must be embedded in the mechanisms that shape the management of fisheries and aquatic resources.
4. Shared responsibility of First Nations and federal and provincial governments to hold primary responsibility for the management of fisheries and aquatic resources.
5. Cooperation, collaboration and capacity development to conduct all manner of decision-making, engagement, advocacy, technical understandings and related interactions.
6. Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) must be respected and incorporated in governance and management processes.
7. Conservation and stewardship of fisheries and aquatic resources, their habitats, and ecosystems must be a resource management priority.
8. Trust and relationship building to create strong and enduring relationships.
9. Transparency and accountability in decision=making processes. 10.Communication must be accessible, relevant and timely.