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Nunavut Fisheries Co-management and the Role of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in Fisheries Management

Naujaat Summer 2015The decision-making processes governing the harvesting and allocation of fisheries resources in Canada takes place within the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) using western science-based knowledge systems and operating under three key pieces of legislation, the Oceans, Fisheries and Species at Risk Acts. This paper examines the structure of fisheries governance in Canada with a specific focus on Nunavut and the co-management framework, created through the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA). Given the diversity of resources and fishing practices within the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA), and adjacent waters, this research explores the different major fisheries, the regulating bodies, guiding policies and frameworks for decision-making influencing the fisheries in Nunavut. It discusses how the NLCA directs the co-management framework within the NSA (12 miles limit of Canada’s Territorial Sea boundary), and how fisheries management and decision making takes place outside of that boundary. The challenges arising from this form of governance structure for fisheries in Nunavut are highlighted as well as opportunities leading to more effective decision-making, taking into account the use of both Inuit and western knowledge systems in the management of the Territory’s fisheries resources.

Evolution of subsistence and commercial Inuit fisheries in the Territory of Nunavut, Canada, Jessica Hurtubise

Summer_2007_Repulse_Bay_Nunavut,_CanadaEastern Canadian Arctic Inuit have hunted bowhead and beluga whales, seals, and narwhals for subsistence for over 4,000 years. They used tools and weapons made of stone, bone, driftwood, antler and ivory. Historical landing estimates remain incomplete but archaeological sites suggest hunting pressure for some species, such as the bowhead, varied in intensity over time depending on culture and climatic conditions. Today, the same species are hunted including several other fish and invertebrates species. Gear type has greatly changed over time as metal tools, wood, motors and explosives appeared in northern communities. This research aims to investigate the evolution of Nunavut fisheries, both subsistence and commercial, by assessing gear type, landings and quotas, species abundance, use, and conservation status. Gear type was found to be greatly influenced by climatic variations, and exchanging goods with European fur traders and American whalers. Size of harvest increased over time for most species, which could be the result of Inuit population growth or gear technology development. Following the introduction of harvest quotas during the 20th century, Inuit subsistence hunting was restricted in regard to seasonal harvest period, area, and species conservation status. The North Atlantic bowhead whale population was depleted during the whaling period (1860-1915), affecting successful Inuit harvests and leading the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to establish strict quotas in an effort to replenish the Atlantic population; hunting only resumed in the mid-1990s. Commercial fisheries have vastly expanded in the last forty years for Greenland halibut, northern shrimp and striped shrimp, and more Inuit are employed each year in commercial fisheries plants. The Inuit show growing interest in participating in the formation of commercial Nunavut fisheries, requesting the development of arctic charr, invertebrates, Greenland halibut, and shrimp fisheries. They also wish to increase bowhead whale, narwhal, and beluga whale quotas in order to continue traditional practices. One challenge faced in managing Nunavut fisheries is combining the very different knowledge systems of Western science and Inuit culture (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit), which is required for co-management between the Inuit, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) and DFO in accordance to the Land Claims Agreement signed in 1993. Collaboration between these three parties is necessary in further developing Arctic fisheries knowledge. Commercial fisheries, although typically not involving traditional Inuit hunting practices, can still be an important source for local economy through employment at fisheries plants or data collection as fisheries observers. Research should continue regarding Arctic subsistence and commercial fisheries in order to better understand Artic species population trends and accurately record yearly harvest totals. Evolution of subsistence and commercial Inuit fisheries in the Territory of Nunavut, Canada 6

Fisheries Management and Decision Making in Canada’s Inland Waterway of Ontario, Lucia Fanning and Stephanie Boudreau

Wind-swept_tree_in_Lake_NipissingOntario’s waterways have been heavily exploited since the 1800s, eventually leading to the development of fisheries management strategies in the late 1900s. Under the Fisheries Act, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNR) is responsible for fisheries management in the Province, working collaboratively with the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which primarily manages fish habitat, and the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) on issues surrounding water quality. Guided by several documents, such as, the Strategic Planning for Ontario Fisheries documents and the Ecological Framework for Fisheries Management (2008), recently the province has created a Provincial Fish Strategy: Fish For the Future report for public comment, and finalized in 2015. Moving from lake-by-lake management to a landscape approach in 2008, OMNR established a Broadscale Scientific Monitoring program for the Province’s lakes. Ontario’s fisheries include recreational, commercial, Aboriginal, and bait fisheries, in addition to internationally managed Great Lakes fisheries and watersheds. The Ontario-specific management changes and monitoring program are still relatively new and as yet there have been no assessments to their effectiveness.

Reports from Masters Students

Improving the eel fishery through the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems into policy-level decision making, Amber Giles, 2015


Amber Giles

As the world continues to transform due to factors such as to climate change, and the expansion of our towns and cities there will continue to be negative consequences for the ecosystems that support our natural resources, economic prosperity and all aspects of our lives. Effective management of ecosystems, natural resources, and harvesting practices is essential for ecosystem health, and sustained harvesting of natural resources. Although the value, importance, and benefits of the incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), particularly of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) into western knowledge science, have been well recognized over the past few decades, suitable mechanisms for collecting and incorporating IKS into policy level decision making are not yet well understood. This research examines the role of IKS in policy level decision-making for Canadian fisheries. Using a case study to explore how an IKS that is incorporated at the community level eel fishery in Eskasoni First Nation, NS and how IKSs are incorporated into the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and Species at Risk Act (SARA) process. Through this exploration, the various parts of the IKS value, beliefs, transmission, knowledge, adaption, and practice are examined to show how management decisions can be enhanced through the incorporation of IKSs.

Everything revolves around the herring”: The Heiltsuk-Herring relationship through time, Alisha Gauvreau, 2015

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Alisha Gavreau

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), a cultural keystone species, are a critical part of the social-ecological systems of British Columbia’s central coast. For millennia, Heiltsuk First Nation has depended on this forage fish for food, social, ceremonial, and economic purposes. My research, nested within the coast-wide “Herring School” initiative, documents the components of Heiltsuk First Nation’s relationship with Pacific herring and how this relationship has changed over time. Results identify (1) how Heiltsuk social institutions, local and traditional ecological knowledge, and worldview (Gvi’ilas) have informed herring management strategies from pre-contact times until present, and (2) how changes in state-led herring management and other social and institutional developments in BC have affected the role and transmission of Heiltsuk local knowledge and management strategies over time.