In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered the Marshall decision, upholding the aboriginal right under the treaties of peace and friendship that occurred in 1760 and 1761, to hunt, to fish and to harvest in order to ensure a level of reasonable subsistence. The decision affected 34 Mi'gmaq and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and in the regions of the Gaspe peninsula and Bas-Saint-Laurent, in Quebec. Subsequently, DFO has adopted a series of initiatives post-Marshall to negotiate fishing agreement with First Nations.
The development of MMAFMA is based on one of these initiatives: the Aboriginal Aquatic Resources and Ocean Management (AAROM) program, which derives its funding from DFO. Despite being a new organization, MMAFMA already possesses a history of budgeted activities through the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (AICFI). All three communities members of MMAFMA are experienced in relation with the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS), AICFI, and they were also holders according to the Marshall Response initiative.