B.C. First Nations urge federal government to implement Cohen recommendations

First Nations across British Columbia say it is “utterly unacceptable” that the federal government has not taken action to implement Cohen Commission recommendations regarding fisheries ...

First Nations across British Columbia say it is “utterly unacceptable” that the federal government has not taken action to implement Cohen Commission recommendations regarding fisheries and aquaculture management.

The Cohen Commission recommended 75 action points intended to address declining fish stocks after conducting a two-year, $26 million study.

But the First Nations Fisheries Council of BC (FNFC) said that rather than working to protect fisheries, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has moved from an environmental protection organization to an economic one.

“Continued government actions are eroding the good will of First Nations,” said FNFC executive director Jordan Point.

“With continued budget cuts, loss of science and habitat programs and an increasing focus on economic priorities, it’s apparent to First Nations and to Canadians that the Government of Canada has strayed far away from principles of protection, conservation and sustainability of the resources they are charged with managing.”

Specifically, the FNFC said changes to the Fisheries Act have moved the DFO’s focus from protecting fish habitat to promoting the interests of commercial and recreational fisheries. The council points to funding cuts for the DFO’s habitat program.

B.C.’s First Nations are calling on the Government of Canada to take immediate action to implement the Cohen Commission recommendations and increase First Nations involvement in aquaculture management decisions.

- With files from Jen St. Denis

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaHampelBIV

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