The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the landmark fishing-rights case of the Lax Kw’alaams band near Prince Rupert, the Vancouver Sun reported on February 17.
The case could have broad implications for aboriginal fisheries and treaty negotiations in British Columbia.
“This is the first time that a civil claim started by the first nation seeking declaration in respect to commercial fishing rights will go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Keith Bergner, a partner at the Vancouver firm Lawson Lundell and specialist in aboriginal law, to the Sun.
The court will decide the extent of aboriginal fishing rights and what the process is for proving those rights, Bergner told the Sun. The band says it has the constitutional right to fish salmon, halibut, herring and other species commercially along the north coast, the newspaper said. Halibut, crab and salmon fisheries stand to be most affected, the Sun said.
According to Bergner, the results of this case could ripple among other B.C. First Nations with similar cases pending, as well as when it comes to treaty negotiation given the large number of commercial fishing claims outstanding, including inland fisheries, Bergner told the Sun.