The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) claimed to have found hundreds of rotting fish in abandoned gill nets on Lake Superior, in a release issued on January 25, 2017.
Although Batchewana First Nation (BFN) exercises jurisdiction over the Lake Superior fishery, jurisdiction that is recognized by Canadian Courts, the MNR failed to notify the First Nation or make any effort to collaborate on this shocking discovery.
The BFN Natural Resources Department has received numerous phone calls from concerned citizens in regards to the shameful waste of this valuable resource.
The First Nation operates under their own Fisheries management system that is developed in accordance with original teachings and responsibilities that are respectful to the land. It is for this reason that BFN citizens are outraged that an act so blatantly disrespectful could take place within their territory.
The BFN Chief and Council are of the strong belief that there is a disconnect between the Ontario Courts and their administrator (the MNRF). The MNRF continually challenges Batchewana’s recognized jurisdiction on many fronts, this disconnect has proven to be problematic and ultimately causes unfortunate situations such as this.
Batchawana with limited resources is only able to manage the indigenous fishery portion of the Great Lakes fishery as it pertains to Lake Superior at this time which is misaligned with Batchewana’s jurisdiction over the entire eastern lake superior area.
The MNR release stated that the nets had been unattended for well over a month, which means in turn that they had also been undiscovered for well over a month. If Batchewana was properly financially resourced with the revenues from the overall resources the fisheries generate this type of waste would not be happening.
Chief Sayers stated, “ If the Ontario Courts and their administrator were able to amend their damaged relationship and Batchewana had the means to properly manage and patrol the fishery systems on eastern Lake Superior, we would see a significant improvement in the fisheries without alarming scenarios such as this.”