For decades, commercial and recreational fishers have been decimating the Dungeness crab fishery on the central coast of B.C. Now, a new decision collaboratively made by four First Nations and Fisheries and Oceans Canada sets aside several harvest sites for Indigenous food, social and ceremonial purposes. Photo Credit: Ashley-Belle Burns / Shutterstock

Animals Canada27. April 2021

Government Works with Indigenous Nations to Protect Harvesting Sites

Four indigenous groups in British Columbia, Canada, known as First Nations, concluded a groundbreaking agreement with the government to protect 17 crab harvesting sites along the coast for indigenous purposes, paving the way for more collaborative fishery projects.

“There’s a lot riding on this type of decision-making,” says Danielle Shaw, chief councilor of the Wuikinuxv Nation. “If we can build a foundation from a more collaborative way of management, then it can really be a turning point for management of a lot of species across the country.”

In the span of three to four months, commercial operators and recreational fishers caught so many crabs that local indigenous communities were left with not enough shellfish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Therefore, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, and Wuikinuxv Nations requested the ban of commercial and recreational fisheries from the 17 harvesting sites. In 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada greenlighted their request and launched a pilot program to make decisions regarding crab fisheries in partnership with the First Nations as part of a fisheries reconciliation agreement.

The Narwhal

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