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NANAIMO, B.C. — Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it’s contributing $11.8 million to support Indigenous commercial fisheries in British Columbia.

Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray announced the funding at a news conference Wednesday, saying it would support business and training opportunities for 31 Indigenous companies involving 117 First Nations in the province.

Murray says commercial fisheries help support social and economic development and self-sufficiency in Indigenous communities, and her department is “working every day” to increase First Nations’ involvement in fisheries management.

The funding is being distributed to 52 different projects through the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, a program first launched in 2007.

Fisheries and Oceans says the projects include funding to buy new equipment and vessels, expand kelp aquaculture operations and increase First Nations’ commercial halibut and sablefish quotas.

Murray says the department’s goal is to ensure that its programs “meet the needs and expectations of Indigenous communities and support their participation in the management of fisheries, oceans, aquaculture and aquatic habitat and resources.”

The minister also acknowledged that Pacific salmon fisheries are in a “challenging state” and the federal government is working with First Nations to restore stocks. 

Her department has said that many B.C. salmon populations are declining to historic lows due to climate change, habitat degradation and “fishing pressures.” 

About 60 per cent of the province’s commercial salmon fisheries were closed last June as part of Ottawa’s Pacific salmon recovery efforts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2022. 

The Canadian Press

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