Guide Fish, Law, and Colonialism: The Legal Capture of Salmon in British Columbia

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Slowly this is being replaced with government regulations and licenses that restrict First Nations and their access to fisheries and salmon which has led to great tension and conflict between the First Nations and non-indigenous fishermen. This restricted First Nation fishing for food only which to benefit and expand on commercial fishing. Also indicating that "Indians shall, at all times, have liberty to fish for the purpose of providing food for themselves but not for sale, barter or traffic, by any means of other with drift nets or spearing.

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Government officials required Aboriginals to acquire a permit to fish for food. The decision found that Musqueam First Nation has an aboriginal right to fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes, taking priority, after conservation, over other uses of the resource, and the importance of consulting with aboriginal groups when their fishing rights might be affected.

The History and Future of the Salish Sea

Since this program, 87 community commercial licences have been issued to aboriginal groups. As the number of non-indigenous fishers increased, more regulations and laws were imposed on the fisheries leading to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulation of Whereas Coast Salish people had been free to fish when and where they needed, from then on they had to seek fishing licences from the government.

Many refused to give up their fishers or buy fisheries licenses and even insisted that the money for the licences belonged to them.

In s, only 40 indigenous fishers on the Fraser had licenses that allowed them to catch fish independently from canneries. In , a policy termed "bona fide white fishermen" gave priority to non-indigenous people of the North Coast. Access to seine licences weren't available to First Nation fishers until , when most non-native fishers have already obtained theirs. Though the government has established treaty rights for Coast Salish people to fish for food, it is still greatly regulated by Department of Fisheries and Oceans with restrictions as to what kind of gear can be used, the hours and days during which gear can be deployed, and the particular species that may be targeted.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved Pacific Salmon Life Histories. Vancouver, UBC Press. First Nations Health Authority. Retrieved April 2, Archived from the original on Native American Religious Traditions.

Books | Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries

Leanne Simpson. Winnipeg, Arbeiter Ring, Bruce G. Vancouver: UBC Press, Keith Thor Carlson. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Archived from the original PDF on April 16, Harris has made a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature on the systematic alienation of First Nations from their traditional resources, and the role played by the Canadian state in it.

The monograph is divided into four lengthy chapters, two of which focus on broad conceptual and theoretical examinations of the role of law in transforming resource management regimes in colonizing societies. The middle chapters are richly detailed case studies that outline the manner in which the 'legal capture' of salmon was achieved by the settler society in British Columbia.

The case studies on the forced removal of fish weirs on Babine Lake and the Cowichan River are exceptionally well-told tales and deserve a wide readership both within and outside of academia.

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In both chapters Harris lays out the common historical process by which the traditional rights of Native peoples to resources become privileges through the application of law by the colonizers, and the configuration of economic and social relationships that result in the privileges being taken away. In the case of Babine Lake, the fish weirs were removed over a period of a few years , as the federal Department of Fisheries accommodated the expanding salmon-canning industry's need for more exclusive access to the resource and for a reliable industrial workforce.

The Cowichan River story is much less straightforward, the removal of weirs taking more than a half-century and involving not only Native and [End Page ] cannery interests, but also anglers, lumber operators, and local settlers in a shifting set of economic, political, and community relations. The two stories provide a compelling juxtaposition: the Babine Lake case study demonstrates the power of the state in Canada to impose sudden and radical transformations of Native economies through direct coercion in order to legitimize industrial capital; the Cowichan River case study demonstrates the limitations of state power and the potential for First Nations to employ a combination of both Native and colonial law to mount an effective resistance to the process of resource alienation.

Harris is thoroughly convincing in his main argument that the Native fisheries of British Columbia, contrary to the beliefs of the colonizers, were subject to sophisticated and effective regulation before contact, and specifically that the concept of a 'food fishery' was a construction of colonial law rather than a historical reality. Obviously, these are arguments that have a direct bearing on the legal struggle of First Nations for their rights to the natural resources of Canada.

I am hopeful that Harris's book will get the attention it deserves in the legal community. If you have concerns related to your privacy please contact us at info thetyee. Raising tax rates on high income earners Taxing offshore tax havens and closing loopholes Implementing a wealth or inheritance tax Implementing a financial transactions tax Increases to tax on capital gains and stock options for CEOs The tax system is already fair. Take this week's poll.

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