BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. First Nations say feds' decision to proceed with fishery will mean conflict

04/03/2014 08:33 EDT | Updated 06/03/2014 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Two of British Columbia's largest aboriginal groups have joined forces to oppose any plans by the federal government for a commercial roe herring fishery this year.

The First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs say they're against the fishery opening in the waters of Haida Gwaii, the central cost and the west coast of Vancouver Island due to conservation concerns.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says stocks are not strong enough to support or sustain a commercial fishery.

He says Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has rejected the recommendations of her department's own scientists by saying the fishery would open later this week after being closed since 2006.

In January, the Nuu-chah-nulth nations won a legal victory in the Supreme Court of Canada, which rejected a federal attempt to appeal a B.C. Supreme Court judgment affirming the rights of aboriginal people to sell their catch.

The Nuu-chah-nulth, along with the Haida and the Heiltsuk, said in a letter to Shea on Thursday that conflict between First Nations and commercial fishermen will result if the roe herring fishery proceeds.