Hamill, S. (2016). “The Public Right to Fish and the Triumph of Colonial Dispossession in Ireland and Canada”. University of British Columbia Law Review,
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In both late-nineteenth-century Ireland and late-twentieth-century Canada there were a cluster of cases which discussed the public right to fish. A comparison of the jurisprudence in these two examples highlights the tacit clash between two competing legal systems seen in fishing rights cases; namely the common law versus pre-existing legal systems. By comparing the two examples, I examine the ways in which the law can be used to challenge and withstand colonial assertions of power but also the ways in which courts silence or ignore these claims, even if they are phrased in terms the common law ought to understand. As adaptable as the common law may be to local conditions, in the case of the public right to fish it was altered to suit colonial ends and to further the dispossession of the rightful owners of the fisheries.
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