Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin - First Nation Aquaculture Legal Framework


  • Fish and fishing are fundamental to the sustenance and culture of First Nations communities of the Anishinabek Nation.

  • Court rulings have concluded that First Nations have an Aboriginal right, as defined in the Constitution of Canada, to fish for food, social, ceremonial, and commercial purposes and that this right takes priority over all others, after conservation.

  • The courts have made it clear that Indigenous rights must be interpreted flexibly to permit their evolution over time. Aquaculture, an emergent application of fisheries resources, is a logical extension of such rights.

  • The Ontario aquaculture industry produces more than 5,500 tonnes of fish annually with a farm-gate value in excess of $30 million. More than 550 people are employed directly and indirectly as a result of aquaculture – largely in rural communities. The industry contributes about $126 million to the provincial economy.

  • Aquaculture in Ontario is projected to expand predominantly through First Nation ventures and partnerships.

  • In consultation with First Nations involved in aquaculture, the Waubetek Business Development Corporation has been developing a governance framework – the Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin – to empower First Nations to issue licences, leases, permits, rules and requirements to aquaculture ventures operating on First Nations’ traditional lands and waters. The Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin will position First Nations to govern Indigenous and non-Indigenous aquaculture operations by exercising inherent Aboriginal and treaty rights related to natural resources, territory, and culture.

  • Existing licencing and leasing requirements for aquaculture in Ontario have been considered in the development of the Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin, to include oversight as well as references to First Nation values, teachings, principles, and practices in protecting water and land resources.

  • A new Indigenous led organization is being proposed to provide environmental and operational monitoring of aquaculture ventures as well as support to First Nations in the management of Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin.


For more information on the Giigoonh Chi-Naaknigewin please contact the Senior Aquaculture Development Officer or the General Manager Dawn Madahbee-Leach