The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate
November 2, 2016
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Mr. Government Leader, I had hoped to ask this question of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans yesterday, and to begin by thanking him for his recent decision on the 2016-17 shrimp increase in Davis Straits West, allocating 90 per cent to Nunavut and 10 per cent to Nunavik.
The minister’s decision clearly respects the adjacency principles set out in the Nunavut and Nunavik land claims agreements, and I give the minister credit for that. I also thank you for intervening with the minister in that respect.
But my question is about the federal government’s Aboriginal fisheries strategy established in 1992, in response to the Supreme Court R. v. Sparrow decision. The Government of Nunavut, Nunavik Tunngavik Incorporated and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board recently looked at options available to help support the development of our important and growing fishery in Nunavut. The study noted that from that fund $671 million has been utilized by First Nations Aboriginal groups on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to buy fishing licences and fishing enterprises, just the kind of support we need in Nunavut.
However, Nunavut, which I don’t need to remind you has the longest coastline in Canada, has no access to this fund. Nunavut fishing enterprises desperately need access to quotas in the south to operate year round and therefore make their enterprises more economically viable.
I realize you may not be prepared to answer this, but can you tell me if, as requested by Nunavut stakeholders, a program is being developed for the Inuit of Nunavut to allow them to also grow their fishing enterprises?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me begin by thanking the honourable senator for his ongoing interest in Nunavut. Given the nature of his question, I would be more than pleased to seek an answer from the minister. I regret that you didn’t have time to ask it yesterday.
Senator Patterson: Thank you.
(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on November 2, 2016)
Introduced in 1992, in response to the 1990 Sparrow decision and other objectives, the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy program (AFS) provides a framework for the management of fishing by Indigenous groups for food, social, and ceremonial purposes and provides a small amount of support for commercial fisheries opportunities (through the Allocation Transfer Program part of AFS introduced in 1994). The AFS program serves, in part as a “bridge to treaty” and is applicable in areas where the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manages the fishery and where land claims settlements have not already put in place a fisheries management framework.
DFO’s investments in Nunavut have focused on commercial scientific research. The federal government contributed $40.5 million towards the construction of Nunavut’s first commercial fishing harbour in Pangnirtung, which opened in 2013. Between 2009 and January 2016, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency also committed over $8.6 million in support of commercial fisheries projects in Nunavut.
DFO has begun working with its Federal partners, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the Government of Nunavut to explore the needs and opportunities of Inuit of Nunavut with respect to commercial fisheries.