What is T’aaq-wiihak?
T’aaq-wiihak refers to fishing with permission of the Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs). In 2009, the BC Supreme Court recognized the aboriginal rights of the five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations of Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht (known as the Five Nations) to catch and sell all species traditionally harvested within their territories. Since that time, Canada and the Five Nations have been discussing ways to create economic fisheries that work for First Nations and coastal communities.
Until agreement on the Five Nations fisheries are reached, demonstration fisheries for various species, such as suuhaa (chinook), miʔaat (sockeye), cuw̓it (coho), tuškuuḥ (lingcod), p̓uuʔi (halibut), rockfish, c̓aʔinwa (gooseneck barnacles) and t̓eʔinwa (sea cucumber) are in place to help pilot management practices to support the development of future T’aaq-wiihak fisheries. These are legal, sustainable and local fisheries agreed upon by the Nations and DFO. The fisheries are monitored for proper management, and fishers must follow food and safety regulations. Fisheries are open during distinct time openings and to target specific species – fisheries are not open all the time and not every species is authorized for sale during an opening.
Five Nations fishers observe a code of environmental stewardship based on the Nuu-chah-nulth principles hishukish t’sawalk (everything is one) and iisaak (respect with caring), that works to preserve rather than deplete fisheries resources for future generations.
For questions about the Five Nations fisheries, or to learn about upcoming openings and what species can be purchased, please contact the Ha’oom Fisheries Society office at 250-725-2802 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.