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I would like to respond to a letter that Larry Miller M.P. submitted to The Hub on August 20, 2016.
I agree with conservation is necessary but I also feel we need to do it together. First Nation Commercial Fishers and recreational fishers need to stop pointing fingers at each other and work on conserving our precious resource for future generations. I think education is key. I know there are many myths  about First Nation Commercial Fishers out there and honestly I don't know too many rules and regulations about recreational fishing. I do know we fish sustainably and also many other First Nation Fishers do to. We agree to this for we wouldn't be issued a Commercial Fishing Licence. The Commercial Fishing licence allows us, First Nation Fisher, to share in the quota that is shared between Chippewas of Nawash and Saugeen First Nation.
My background is that I am married to a First Nation Commercial Fisher. We operate a fish plant on Neyaashiinigmiing, ON. We have been in business for 13 years and have experienced many changes to the fish, catches, climate, algae and invasive species.
I think conservation is so important but also worrying about the health of the waters is equally if not more important. We record the weights of the fish we catch and also the fish we purchase. Looking back over the numbers over the years the catch is going down and the size of fish we are catching are also shrinking. We use to have a dip net on board the boat to get those big beauties in the boat but we haven't had a dip net in the boat in at least 10 years.
We also get stopped by the MNR and just the Thursday before this article was printed my husband was stopped out on the bay. He showed the Conservation Officer his Boat Smart Card. He had a long but pleasant conversation with the Conservation Officer who was just doing his job. One OPP officer was with the MNR Conservation Officer and he listened politely to this conversation. The Conservation Officer and my husband traded business cards and then both continued on with their work day.
Fixing this is bigger than just one party. It will take many people who share this concern. We need to stop pointing fingers for it won't fix this. Conservation is important but that is just the beginning. Taking care of our water is more important and all the life forms that need fresh, clean water are depending on us to take care of this limited resource.

Natasha Akiwenzie

Neyaashiinigmiing, ON


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