Aboriginal Fishing Strategy (AFS)

The Aboriginal Fishing Strategy (AFS) is a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) program created to improve conservation, management and enhancement of the resource. The Supreme Court’s 1990 Sparrow decision defined Aboriginal peoples’ rights to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes and sets out the necessity of consulting with Aboriginal groups when their fishing rights might be affected.

The AFS seeks to provide for the effective management and regulation of the Aboriginal fishery and ensures that the Aboriginal right to fish is respected, through negotiation of mutually acceptable, and time-limited Fisheries Agreements between DFO and Aboriginal groups. Where agreement cannot be reached, DFO will issue a communal fishing license to groups, allowing them to fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes.

The AFS has offered more stability to all fisheries while providing a greater Aboriginal role in fisheries management and harvesting, resulting in better monitoring of Aboriginal fishing, improved cooperation on enforcement, more selective fishing, and a reduction in protests and confrontation. About 125 AFS agreements have been signed each year since 1992.

Approximately 5,000 seasonal jobs have been created through the AFS since 1993 in such areas as processing, monitoring and enhancement activities.

Aboriginal Fishing Strategy Allocation Transfer Program
A component of DFO’s Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, this program facilitates the voluntary retirement of commercial licences and the issuance of licences to eligible Aboriginal groups. The purpose of this program is to increase the number of commercial licences issued to Aboriginal communities. The program is administered in a manner that does not add to the existing pressure on the resource, thereby providing Aboriginal groups with employment and income.


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