High court dismisses Ottawa, B.C. appeal of First Nations fisheries

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VANCOUVER - The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a federal government application to appeal a British Columbia court ruling recognizing First Nations rights to a commercial fishery.

The decision brings an end to a decade-long legal fight by the Nuu-chah-nulth (New-cha-nulth) nations of Vancouver Island.

The five bands involved argued that fisheries formed the backbone of their trading economy long before the arrival of Europeans.

They say that translates into the right to conduct a modern commercial fishery and not just a subsistence food fishery.

The federal and provincial governments both challenged the claim, with the B.C. Wildlife Federation, B.C. Seafood Alliance and the Underwater Harvesters Research Society as interveners in the case.

Deb Foxcroft, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribal council, says the federal government must now work with First Nations to design fisheries that meet their needs.

Organizations: First Nations, Supreme Court of Canada, B.C. Wildlife Federation B.C. Seafood Alliance Underwater Harvesters Research Society

Geographic location: Ottawa, Vancouver Island, Nuu British Columbia

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