Historic fisheries agreement between Listuguj and Ottawa

April 20, 2021

Listuguj and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have signed a five-year fisheries governance agreement that is considered unprecedented by the Indigenous community.

The Fisheries Reconciliation and Recognition Agreement, recognizes Mi'kmaq First Nation fisheries governance and fishing rights.

“For the first time, Canada has officially recognized our sacred and inherent responsibility for the stewardship of the lands, waters and living things of Gespe’gewa’gi,” said Chief Darcy Gray.

The agreement also recognizes the mechanisms, including Mi'gmaq laws, by which the Listuguj government governs and manages fisheries.

“As the basis of this agreement, Canada also accepted that the recognition of our jurisdiction, our legal orders and our laws be the starting point of the discussions between the federal government and the Mi'kmaq government of Listuguj,” added the Chief.

"This agreement," said the director of natural resources, Fred Metallic, "will allow us to plan and implement our seasons with some certainty that DFO will not unjustifiably encroach on the governance of the Mi'gmaq fisheries and on our fishing rights."

Also a member of the fisheries negotiation team on behalf of the band council, Fred Metallic also notes that his community will thus have better access to fishing resources, whether for food, social, ceremonial or commercial purposes, funds for capacity building in fisheries governance, access to fisheries, which could include permits, quotas, vessels and gear.

The federal Department of Fisheries is also committed to upholding the Supreme Court of Canada decision authorizing fishing and the sale of fish to ensure a decent livelihood.

Minister Bernadette Jordan mentioned that the Mi'gmaq have fished the shores of the Atlantic for centuries and have the inherent right to continue this way of life.

On June 17, 2019, the Listuguj government adopted its Lobster Act which relaunched negotiations with Canada to reach, according to the community's objective, an agreement based on Mi'gmaq understandings and beliefs, as well as than on the recognition of indigenous laws.