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Open Season – Why the Algonquin Land Claim deal is bad for conservation

Open season: Why the Algonquin Land Claim deal is bad for conservation By Phil Morlock Originally Published by Outdoor Canada, Spring 2013 Have you ever considered what the future of fishing, hunting and conservation would look like if there were no closed seasons, no creel or bag limits and no restrictions on gear, harvest methods and the trade in wild fish and game meat? Probably not. After all, Canada is not a developing nation where natural resource conservation has yet to be adopted. Well, you’d better sit down before reading on. Lawyers and bureaucrats representing the Canadian and Ontario governments, who wouldn’t know a brook trout from a bass, have been working secretly behind closed doors for years to produce exactly such a policy for the 10,000 members of Ontario’s Algonquin First Nation. This bizarre regression to the anything-goes fishing and hunting practices of the 19th century is spelled out in the agreement-in-principle (AIP) for the Algonquin Land Claim, which encompasses 36,000 square kilometres of eastern Ontario. That’s one-seventh of the province, and home to 1.4 million people. The AIP was quietly released in December, and public information meetings were held in mid-March. But what chance is there of making changes? According to Brian Crane, Ontario’s chief negotiator in the settlement negotiations, members of the Algonquin First Nation will vote to ratify the AIP this spring. A partner in the law firm Gowlings, Crane is also on record as saying few changes would be possible once the AIP has been made public. That is disturbing, considering the AIP typically forms the basis for the actual treaty in land claim settlements. It gets worse. Algonquin Park is included in the land claim region, meaning the unregulated [...]