Recommendations for marine herring policy change in Canada: Aligning with Indigenous legal and inherent rights

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Marine Policy 74: 68-76.


Marine policy; Herring; Indigenous peoples; First Nations; Marine resources; Environmental governance


The time of Indigenous “inclusion” into state-led marine policy making is ending. Indigenous peoples are increasingly asserting their rights to primary roles in policy- and decision-making that affect their traditional homelands, freshwater bodies and oceans. Pacific herring governance is an important illustration of how coastal Indigenous nations, are reasserting legal and inherent rights to fisheries governance. Based in the empirical setting of British Columbia, Canada, this research examines (1) pressures for change to federal herring policy in the context of Indigenous rights and self-determination, and (2) the compatibility of Canadian federal marine policies with Indigenous herring governance. Findings suggest that Canada has an opportunity to implement new and strategic policy alternatives on herring that: better reflect emergent legal precedents; accommodates gains in Indigenous influence over decision-making; and supports the self-determination goals of coastal Indigenous nations. Given the context of fisheries uncertainty and a clear need to address Indigenous legal and inherent rights, Canada has an opportunity to position itself as a global leader in marine policy to reflect Indigenous inherent and legal rights.

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