Archived - Government's Response - Request for Information about the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) and the Marshall Decision

Archived information

The Standard on Web Usability replaces this content. This content is archived because Common Look and Feel 2.0 Standards have been rescinded.

Archived information is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Note: to read the PDF version you need Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 (or later) on your system. Acrobat Reader is available from

If the Adobe download site is not accessible to you, you can download Acrobat Reader from an accessible page at:

If you choose not to use Acrobat Reader you can have the PDF file converted to HTML or ASCII text by using one of the conversion services offered by Adobe at

If the following tables are not accessible to you, please contact: Barb Dempsey,, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 200 Kent Street, Stn 13194, Ottawa, Ontario, (613) 991-4940 for formats such as regular print, large print, braille, audio cassette or other appropriate format.

Q1.What is the number and type of fishing licences transferred to First Nations as a result of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy beginning in 1992 and the Marshall decision?

Since the inception of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) in 1992, 3,690 annual food, social and ceremonial allocations have been provided to 110 Aboriginal groups. These licences have included over 72 species of fish.

In addition, 864 communal commercial fishing licences have been issued to many of the same groups since the creation of the Allocation Transfer Program (a component of AFS) in 1994.

Table 1 (PDF Version), attached, provides details on the number of commercial fishing licences provided under the AFS since 1992, by province, Aboriginal group, species and fishing area, while Table 2 (PDF Version) does so for food, social and ceremonial allocations beginning in 1995-1996.

Following the 1999 Marshall decision, the government implemented the Marshall Response Initiative which resulted in close to 320 commercial licences being committed for First Nations affected by the Marshall decision. Table 3 (PDF Version) details the licences committed to meet obligations under the Initial Marshall Response Initiative from 1999-2001 by Aboriginal group, province, species and fishing area. In addition, Table 4 (PDF Version) does the same for licences committed for Year 1 of the longer-term Marshall Response Initiative.

Tables 3 and 4 represent core licences only and do not include all of the licences that are typically attached to a core licence.

Q2.What is the quantity and value of landings derived from the licences referred to above on an annual basis beginning in 1992? Q3.What is the quantity and value of fish allocated and landings under the provision of the food and ceremonial fishery since 1992?

Information pertaining to the quantity and value of landings since 1992 cannot be released in a disaggregated form as this data may compromise commercial confidentiality, ongoing fisheries agreement negotiations and the licence retirement programs.

Landed values of fish caught for food, social and ceremonial purposes are not available, as these fish, for the most part, are not placed in the commercial marketplace. However, aggregate information pertaining to communal commercial licences under Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy is being compiled and will be provided once this has been done.

The communal commercial licences committed under the Marshall Response Initiative as of March 31, 2002 are estimated to have the potential to generate approximately $25 million annually in landed value for First Nations.

Q4.What is the number of boats transferred or purchased and transferred to First Nations under the provisions of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and the Marshall decision? What is the value of the buy-out packages implemented for the purchase of boats and gear and licences transferred to First Nations peoples under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and the Marshall Decision?

Table 5 (PDF Version), attached, shows that a total of 90 vessels have been transferred or purchased for Aboriginal communities under the Allocation Transfer Program component of AFS since 1994. The value of licences, boats and gear transferred in this same time period totals $61 million, as set out in Table 6 (PDF Version).

With regard to the Marshall Response Initiative, 166 vessels were transferred from November 1999 to the end of January 2002. Approximately

$147.8 million has been spent on retirement packages and the procurement of new vessels and gear up until March 31, 2002. Please note that this amount relates to the total expenditures to March 31, 2002, as opposed to the total committed licences noted in Tables 3 and 4.

Q5.What are the estimates of how many more licences, boats and gear DFO expects and is prepared to transfer to meet the obligations under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and the Marshall decision? What is the estimated value of those further transfers?

The Allocation Transfer Program component of Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy facilitates the voluntary retirement of commercial licences and the issuance of licences to eligible Aboriginal groups in a manner that does not add to the existing effort on the resource. The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy program currently spends about $12 million a year for the retirement of commercial licences.

We expect to continue to spend an amount equal to this allocation on an annual basis. The actual number of licences that will be retired, vessels and gear that will be acquired will depend upon a number of market factors including price, availability, quantity, etc.

With regard to the Marshall Response Initiative, DFO is still negotiating longer-term Fisheries Agreements with a number of First Nations. The outcome of the negotiations will not be known for some time. Once negotiated, DFO will attempt to then seek licences to fulfill the requirements set out in the Fisheries Agreements.

The value of licences, boats and gear that will be transferred will depend on the outcome of negotiations between fishers and DFO. In securing these items, the Department intends to pay fair and reasonable costs. To date, the main vehicle to secure licences has been the voluntary licence retirement program.

Q6.What is the current value of annual licences and access fees paid to DFO that will be lost to government revenue as a result of licence transfers to native communities? Q7.Does DFO expect to recoup this loss of cost-recovery revenue in any way? If so, how? If not, will there be cutbacks in science and enforcement to compensate for the lost revenue?

DFO took into account the anticipated licence fee shortfall to the Consolidated Revenue Fund as a result of the loss in licence fees resulting from the Marshall Response Initiative during the planning stage of the program development. Overall, DFO collects about $22 million a year in licence fees paid by commercial fishers in the Gulf, Maritimes and Québec regions. It was originally estimated that as a result of licence transfers to First Nations communities under the Marshall Response Initiative, licence fees would be about $1.7 million less per year than they otherwise would have been. DFO has been provided with compensation in recognition of this loss.

It should be noted that cost recovery is not the underlying principle for commercial licence fees. Rather, the underlying principle is that it is reasonable for those who benefit from access to a public resource to pay a fee that reflects the value of that privilege.

Q8.Has DFO prepared any "guidelines" to govern the participation of non-native fishermen on "treaty-right" vessels? Current estimates are that about 80% of the boats have non-native captains and at least partial non-native crews.

In August 2002, DFO surveyed First Nations under the Marshall Response Initiative. The survey indicates that 80% of the deckhands and 66% of the captains on vessels fishing under communal commercial licences issued to First Nations are Aboriginal peoples. That being said, as a result of the training and mentoring programs, more First Nation fishers are participating in the fishery each year.

DFO does not have guidelines to govern the participation of non-native fishers in First Nation fisheries.

DFO's objective is to provide First Nations with opportunities to participate actively in the commercial fishery through communal licences issued to Aboriginal organizations.

First Nations will require some time to develop skills and capacity to harvest a fishery themselves. Certification and mentoring programs as well as various training programs enable First Nations communities to acquire the skills and experience necessary to participate safely and responsibly in the fishery.

Q9.Are there any training plans and targets for increasing native employment on these treaty right vessels? If so, are targets being met? If targets are not being met, what are the consequences? What have training costs been to date?

First Nations and DFO are working toward the objective of building the required capacity of First Nations to fish successfully, safely and responsibly. As part of this, DFO is providing First Nations with funds for various training initiatives to fish their newly acquired access. These initiatives increase First Nations employment on vessels as they gain the skills and experience required to fish.

In the Initial Marshall Response Initiative, approximately $5 million was committed and spent on training initiatives. Through the 23 Marshall Longer-Term Fisheries Agreements that have been signed (18 three-year and 5 one-year agreements), approximately $14 million has been committed towards training programs and approximately $5 million has already been spent in the first year of the program. Negotiations are continuing with those First Nations that have not yet signed an agreement.

In addition to capacity building initiatives outlined in the Marshall Fisheries Agreements, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and DFO established a Technical Working Group to assist in the training needs of members of the Aboriginal communities. While the working group provides advice and standards for training, the bands run their own programs. This will ensure that First Nation mentors possess the tools to train their own band members in their own community. These programs also encourage participation from non-native fishers to be certified as mentors in order to transfer their skills and knowledge to native fishers where "gaps" have been identified in the Aboriginal communities in specific areas and species.

One example of its programs is the First Nations Fisheries Mentor Training and Certification Program. It is designed to help First Nation communities achieve self-sufficiency as quickly as possible in terms of their ability to conduct the fishing access acquired under the Marshall Response Initiative. It is expected that 80 new native and non-native mentors will be trained and certified by the end of 2002 and will be in a position to transfer their skill sets to new native fishers. It is also expected that about 300 trainees will benefit from the experience of these mentors.

Q10.Is DFO prepared to work with non-native fisheries coastal organizations to assess the economic and social impact on certain communities of the licence transfers that have already taken place, and what will take place over the next three years?

DFO is working with representatives of non-native fisheries to promote continuous relationships between various stakeholders. As part of the Department's implementation of the Marshall Response Initiative, the Industry Advisory Committee was established.

The Committee has already proved itself to be a useful forum, providing feedback on program delivery and policy issues related to DFO initiatives and the licence retirement program.

To retire the licences needed to provide access to First Nations, DFO is using a voluntary licence retirement program. This tool was supported by industry as the best mechanism to lessen the impact on the overall fishery as the involvement of First Nations in the fishery is increased.

Despite the voluntary nature of the retirement program, DFO recognizes that in certain communities special attention will be required to facilitate the introduction of First Nations into the fishery. In Richibucto, for example, a resource person was hired to address community concerns and find solutions to local issues. This effort has already resulted in diminished tensions surrounding the management of the local wharf.

Initiatives are underway to address concerns in the community of Miramichi Bay. These include the holding of a regional community development workshop, cross-cultural awareness workshops and the establishment of an inter-agency group to work on long term initiatives.

As the Department carries out the Marshall Response Initiative, it will continue to take advantage of consultation opportunities with industry and community leaders.

Q11.Apparently, 21 First Nations who have not negotiated new 2-3 year agreements have seen their current agreements expire on March 31, 2002. What are DFO's intentions if these First Nations attempt to increase their fisheries access unilaterally?

As of the end of August 2002, DFO had signed 23 Marshall Longer-Term Fisheries Agreements. Of these, 18 are three-year agreements, and 5 First Nations signed one-year agreements that expired on March 31, 2002. Another 8 First Nations had signed one-year agreements under the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy program that also expired on March 31, 2002. We are in the process of re-negotiating the 13 expired agreements under the Marshall Response Initiative and Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy programs.

The 5 one-year signatories, along with the remaining unsigned First Nations, may negotiate new Fisheries Agreements for 2002-03 and 2003-04. We continue to seek agreements with all First Nations affected by the Marshall decision.

The new Federal Fisheries Negotiator, Mr. Brian McGuigan, is responsible for negotiating agreements with Mi'kmaq and Maliseet communities. While he will likely meet with all of the First Nations affected by the Marshall Response Initiative, his immediate focus is those bands that have signed a one-year agreement only and those that have yet to sign any agreements.

DFO anticipates that all participants in the fishery will respect the law. Fisheries Agreements and licences provide for an orderly fishery and ensure that the principle of conservation is respected.