April 5, 2012 – MLI’s study released in February evaluating the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fishery Initiative (AICFI) by Professor Jacquelyn Thayer Scott was highlighted in The Guardian (Charlottetown) yesterday. According to Scott, AICFI represents a unique and successful program for aboriginal management of natural resources, specifically in program implementation, conception and delivery. Its lessons have high potential applicability in First Nations issues at a range of social and economic levels and offer promise for improved policy and practice in a large country with widely differing inter- and intra-provincial differences and characteristics. The full column below also outlines Scott’s analysis of the core principles and values that made AICFI successful and have the potential for replication outside of Atlantic Canada and potentially in areas outside fisheries resources. She recommends for its renewal.
Aboriginal fishery agreement warrants renewal, study says
The Guardian (Charlottetown), April 5, 2012
Mi’kmaq and Maliseet fishers earned $35 million in 2009 under a commercial fishery agreement, a study on the initiative has concluded. This is up from $4.4 million in 1999, before the Marshall Decision.
The Marshall Decision gave First Nations in Atlantic areas the right to fish commercially for “a moderate living”, and gave birth to the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fishery Initiative (AICFI).
The program resulted in increased employment, reduction in the employment income gap, and encouraged First Nations fishing and fishing-related businesses to grow in number and scope.
With the AICFI up for renewal on April 1, 2012, professor Jacquelyn Thayer Scott undertook a major evaluation of the program for Macdonald-Laurier Institute. Her study was released in February.
According to her study, released in February, the AICFI represents a unique and successful program for aboriginal management of natural resources, specifically in program implementation, conception and delivery.
“The Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fishery Initiative has been a completely new and different policy approach unlike anything seen before in Canada,” said Scott. “Its lessons have high potential applicability in First Nations issues at a range of social and economic levels. Its lessons also reach farther afield and offer promise for improved policy and practice in a large country with widely differing inter- and intra-provincial differences and characteristics.”
Scott concludes that these successes warrant its renewal. At the same time, she examined the AICFI program in order to discover the lessons to be learned from its operation and how to apply them more widely to aboriginal enterprise programs.
Scott’s analysis found some core principles and values that made AICFI successful and have the potential for replication outside of Atlantic Canada and potentially in areas outside fisheries resources.
They include the following:
– Transparency has to start at the beginning so participants know what is expected of them and by them.
– Political firewalls are needed between the contractor and the government, and between the contractor and the client.
– Continuous and systematic client consultation, including a mix of face-to-face and at-a-distance means.
– Confidentiality for individual or corporate proprietary information must be firmly applied.
– Advisory services should be provided by a highly-skilled core program team and occasionally a contract specialist.
– “Measurable bites” that build to a next level of competency when successfully completed encourage clients to participate, and make it possible for the program to measure competency over time.
– Information infrastructure is critically important.
– Simplicity and clarity in all program communications.
– Performance-based outcomes need to be determined at the beginning of the process and expanded midway through.
– Tight management controls, meaning there is a high level of information exchange among all program staff.
– A five-year term is minimally required for impact, with the stated intention of renewing for a second five years if the performance-based measures are trending positively by the end of the first term.
Macdonald-Laurier Institute managing director, Brian Lee Crowley, said, “At a time when aboriginal consent to and involvement in the development and management of so many of our natural resources is becoming ever more indispensable, a program that succeeds in creating genuine opportunities for aboriginals while managing a scarce natural resource in a thoughtful and sustainable way, is something that should attract the attention of policy makers and all Canadians.”