Stewards of Traditional Territories for Thousands of Years
Throughout the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii, CNF shareholder Nations have been stewards of their traditional territories for thousands of years.
Each coastal First Nation has distinct customs and traditions, but all share a cultural identity that is strongly rooted in fishing and the marine ecosystems that support that livelihood. More than just a food source, harvesting marine life plays a significant role in the lives of community members, and seasonal food gathering is still a major part of daily life.
Protecting Nature and Cultural Heritage
To counter ongoing negative impacts from increased development, overfishing and the climate crisis, CNF shareholder Nations have established stewardship programs to protect coastal habitats and cultural heritage, so that coastal residents can continue to harvest sustainably into the future.
At stewardship offices in coastal First Nations, fisheries managers and technicians, Coastal Guardian Watchmen and other stewardship staff work to ensure that marine ecosystems are sustainably managed, fisheries rules and regulations are followed, and Nation-based marine plans are implemented effectively.
Responsibility and Care for Coastal Homelands
CNF shareholder Nations have an ancient and profound relationship with the coastal ecosystems of their territories. This relationship is not simply as communities of people who depend on healthy lands and waters, but as cohabitants, along with all other marine and terrestrial life, of coastal habitats. This is why the people here share a sacred responsibility to care for their coastal homelands.
Although the climate crisis is a global issue that requires global-scale solutions, all communities, businesses, and individuals must play a role in local and regional solutions. This is especially true for coastal regions that have been and will continue to be, disproportionately affected by climate impacts. Examples of these impacts on coastal species include drastic reductions in populations of eulachon and salmon, which is at least partly due to climate change impacts.
Stewards of Our Lands, Water, and Air
CNF shareholder Nations recognize that climate solutions must be tied with reconciliation and Indigenous self-governance to be successful. Having thrived for millennia in the places they continue to occupy today, few people are more impacted, while at the same time, better placed to care for their territories than First Nations. This is as true on North Pacific Coast as anywhere.
Until recently, the impacts of colonization on CNF shareholder Nations served to undermine their central role as stewards of their territories. It is only through processes that restore the territorial title and rights that the Nations will reoccupy their original role as the stewards of their lands, water, and air.
The primary goal of the Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement (FRRA) is to revitalize sustainable fisheries while strengthening First Nations’ governance and collaborative management of coastal fisheries. By ensuring CNF shareholder Nations have the authority and capacity to resume their role in caring for and governing their territories, the FRRA also represents a meaningful step toward mitigating and confronting the climate crisis.
MONITORING FISH POPULATIONS
Tracking Fish Populations in Coastal Territories
Monitoring fish populations provides essential information that guides fisheries management, harvest methods, and quotas. Yearly fish counts can have wide fluctuations, which must be considered when making decisions.
To effectively keep track of fish populations in coastal territories, each CNF shareholder Nation employs fisheries managers, Coastal Guardian Watchmen, and other stewardship staff, who undertake a wide range of tasks, including regular monitoring patrols to gather data and to actively ensure commercial and sport fishers are following regulations in terms of daily catches.
Data-driven Understanding of Local Species
Throughout the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii, Coastal Guardian Watchmen provide a constant presence on the water. During their extensive patrols, Guardians collect a wide range of data using the Regional Monitoring System (RMS)—a standardized, digital approach to data collection that advances a region-wide understanding of species populations.
This data ensures up-to-date knowledge of the current state of marine ecosystems and, combined with countless generations of traditional knowledge, builds upon a vast storehouse of information that aids compliance and enforcement, and supports decision-making by Nation leaders as they implement marine planning and fisheries management in their territories.
TRACEABILITY OF PRODUCT
Verified Environmental and Social Responsibility
Seafood traceability is critical to fisheries management and a requirement for many jurisdictions. Traceability can help deter illegal practices, verify environmental and social responsibility claims, and allow the public to support local, sustainable seafood producers.
Traceability is essential from a business perspective since large food importers worldwide demand high standards for traceability and information about the origins of food. It’s also critically important to empower consumers to make well-informed decisions regarding the seafood they consume, including where it came from and how it was caught.
HOLISTIC FISHERIES MANAGEMENT
Considering the Entire Ecosystem
CNF shareholder Nations are committed to sustainable fisheries management throughout coastal territories. This is part of a broad, regional-scale commitment to sustainable marine planning that follows an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach—an adaptive, holistic planning approach that considers the entire ecosystem.
The EBM approach supports healthy, intact ecosystems that coexist with vibrant, thriving human communities, a new term describing the same balanced approach practiced by coastal First Nations over thousands of years in these coastal territories.
As part of this commitment to sustainability, CNF shareholder Nations oversee many initiatives that aim to improve seafood traceability, including catch monitoring programs to better understand the fishing pressure on salmon, for example. Guardians and fisheries managers also conduct regular population surveys to improve understanding of fishing pressure on Dungeness crab, herring, and other species.