The AFS assists DFO in managing the fishery in accordance with the Sparrow decision and subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. The SFA aims to ensure the effective management and regulation of fisheries by Aboriginal groups by negotiating mutually acceptable and time-limited fisheries agreements between the DFO and Aboriginal groups. In the absence of an agreement with an Aboriginal group, DFO will review consultations with the group and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will issue the group with a municipal fishing licence containing provisions that the Minister believes are consistent with the Sparrow decision and subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. The license allows the group to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Many Upper Fraser River First Nations sign an AFS agreement under the terms of the unilateral Fraser Watershed Agreement (VA). However, many First Nations have come to realize that they want much more from the agreements than the strategy originally intended. The shortcomings of the AFS agreements and their results are very evident when more precedents (Delgamuukw / Gisday`wa, et al) have emerged, especially on the issue of “consultation”. Meanwhile, the Fraser River First Nations, which were amalgamated under the VA, began to split for a number of reasons. If DFO has reached an agreement with an Aboriginal group, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans grants the group a licence reflecting the agreement reached. In the Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) funds approximately $14 million per year through the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy Program (AFS).
Some 95 contribution agreements fund some 165 First Nations. During the summer season, we employ 9 AFS employees funded by the AFS agreement and one summer student as part of the OFN summer program. AfS annual funding amounts to $35 million, with the signing of approximately 125 AFS agreements each year since the program`s implementation. Approximately two-thirds of these agreements are with Aboriginal groups in the DFO Pacific region, with the remainder in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The main objective of the AFS agreements is to reach agreement with Aboriginal groups on fisheries management, including fisheries, food, social and ceremonial fisheries (FSCs) and economic fisheries. Funds will be made available to support fisheries-related cooperative management activities and capacity building. .