In a picture from April 2018, Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver after winning aboriginal fishing rights . Photo credit, Melody Charlie.

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said that they have “incorporated the feedback” previously provided by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations in response to their accusation of “discrimination” yesterday.

Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations accused the federal government and DFO of discriminatory fishery practices favouring recreational fishers over their communities and not upholding the Nations’ court-won aboriginal right to chinook salmon.

READ MORE: Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

READ ALSO: B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

In an email, DFO spokesperson Athina Vazeos told Black Press that since March 2019, the five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have been fishing under a multi-species fishery management plan in their traditional territories for their rights-based sale fishery.

The 2020/21 management plan is the second multi-species fishery management plan developed by DFO since the 2018 Court Order interpreted the Five Nations’ Aboriginal rights.

“This plan outlines fishing opportunities that DFO intends to provide to the five Nations for the 2020/21 season to implement the five Nations’ aboriginal rights to harvest salmon, groundfish, crab, prawn, and gooseneck barnacle in a right-based multi-species sale fishery,” said DFO in the statement.

The DFO also said feedback provided by the five Nations during consultations was considered and incorporated into the 2020/21 fishery management plan by DFO where possible. It also said it continues to consult with the five Nations on those aspects of the fishery management plan that they disagree with and is engaging in broader negotiations with them at the reconciliation table.

When asked about this response given by the DFO, the spokesperson for the five Nations on this matter and lead negotiator for Ahousaht First Nation, Wickanninish (Clifford Atleo), told Black Press that “it’s a sham.”

Wickanninish said that the 2020/21 fisheries management plan that the DFO is based on “some formula” that has “nothing to do with negotiation” with the five nations.

“They don’t consult with us, they never incorporate our view,” he said.

The 76-year-old recalled growing up on coastal territories which were once self-sufficient with food fish. But over the years he has seen the policies of the government “push his people out of the water. “

“The DFO are racist and continue to block the Nuu-chah-nulth fishery,” he said.

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