03/21/2012 12:55 EDT | Updated 05/21/2012 05:12 EDT

First Nations fishermen win tax exemption

Two First Nations men from northern Manitoba don't have to pay tax on income earned from fishing, according to a federal appeal court ruling.

Revenue Canada had argued the income should be taxed because it was from personal property off reserve.

But the federal court reaffirmed an original tax court ruling in 2009 that the Norway House residents were exempt even though the fish weren't caught on reserve property.

At the time, tax court Judge J.E. Hershfield observed, "they fish in the lake because that's where the fish are."

The decision released Wednesday "is a great win for treaty fishermen," said Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.

He said he hopes it will lead to a more "lucrative economy for Manitoba's inland fishermen."

The federal government has 30 days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.