loader image

Island Marine Aquatic Working Group Society


British Columbia


With one voice, IMAWG will support First Nations, and where possible restore all aspects of fisheries, by taking a collaborative approach with First Nation communities and the new Federal Government. IMAWG will work strategically to advance First Nations fishery interests in policy, traditional ecological knowledge, modern science, habitat and fisheries management.

Our Story

The Island Marine and Aquatic Working Group (IMAWG) is an incorporated not for profit society that has been in existence since 2008. Our main purpose is to facilitate regional wide fisheries management meetings between both First Nations and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to discuss all fisheries matters of interest. We are funded by the DFO program Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM).

Our ultimate goal is to create a space for engagement for a unified approach to co-management, while empowering First Nations within their local fisheries supported by the most up to date information, technical advice and recommendations. IMAWG is supported by a technical team called the Island Marine Aquatic Technical Working Group (IMAT) who uses both historical and modern science to review data and information to provide the best sound advice to Nations when engaging in co-management with DFO. It’s important to understand that IMAWG is not a rights holding organization or a decision making body, therefore does not replace fiduciary bilateral consultations between First Nation groups and the Government; we are here to support those discussions with shared information and advice.

How are we organized?

During inception, IMAWG had been an amalgamation of First Nations from Vancouver Island and Marine Approach areas; now IMAWG has 15 appointed/elected members made up of all the three language groups on and around Vancouver Island: Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw who systematically follow a set of bylaws, constitution, policies, this strategic plan and the AAROM agreement reporting requirements.

IMAWG is managed by a contracted executive director and supported by one full time biologist. The executive director administers the program, while the biologists provide technical advice and recommendations to fisheries data, information, management planning and co-chair IMAT. The contractors work with IMAWG members, the IMAWG Board of Directors, DFO and other regional First Nation fishery organizations/processes.

IMAWG delegates and/or contractors participate in several other regional fishery processes such as the Forum on Conservation and Harvest Planning for Fraser Salmon, Salmon Coordinating Committee, BC Southern Chinook Planning Initiative, Halibut Conference Board, and where feasible, DFO lead advisory/sectoral engagement sessions.

Even though IMAWG focuses on a regional approach to fisheries engagement, IMAWG recognizes that the language group Nations may take direction and share information with tribal or hereditary Chief Councils; for example IMAWG partners with the Council of Ha’wiih where they appoint the five Nuu-chah-nulth members to IMAWG and we are invited guests to their meetings. Ultimately it’s the First Nations communities themselves IMAWG takes full direction from, and will always remain in service to whatever systems those communities have in place.

IMAWG continues to strive to improve operations and through this 2016-2019 strategic plan they hope to build regional and local partnerships, enhance communications with local communities, share information, increase engagement with FNFC delegates, build on the relationship with DFO and seek out long term sustainable funding that will ensure a consistent service of business.


Working Group is a team of 15 delegates; five from each Island language group: Coast Salish, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Kwakwaka'wakw. Each delegate is voted in by the language groups Chief and Council and they become the “members” of IMAWG. The delegates work for a three year term supported by a Terms of Reference and Constitution and By-laws.


Facilitate Tier One and Two forums for First Nations to exchange and analyze information on fisheries management, build a unified voice, and to support bilateral discussions between First Nations and Government.

Internal Capacity

  • Executive Director
  • Full-time Biologist


  • Member Nations
  • Fisheries and Oceans
  • First Nations Fisheries Council
  • Q’ul-lhanumutsun Aquatic Resources Society
  • Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance
  • Conseil des Ha’wiih