There have recently been two extraordinary decisions made in Parliament that are edging us closer to a fair and sustainable fisheries policy for British Columbia. On June 21, 2019 Bill C-68 became law, allowing entrenchment of owner-operator and fleet separation policies for Atlantic Canada and Quebec. While these policies don’t apply for DFO Pacific Region, they are badly needed and C-68 opens up that possibility. The MPs reviewing Bill C-68 during Committees stage were moved by compelling evidence that the current system on the West Coast of Canada is broken.
Acting on this evidence the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) undertook a special study on West Coast fisheries regulations. After reviewing oral testimony and briefs from individuals and organizations across the industry, the FOPO report made 20 recommendations to the DFO Minister unanimously supported by members from all parties . The government has yet to respond publicly.
As the new government decides on which priority issues it will take on, we must keep their attention and call for the government to move forward on all 20 of the recommendations. Help us now! We are so close. Now is the time to send letters, emails and sign the petition calling for the government to move forward on all 20 of the recommendations. Help us now.
Fisheries are a cornerstone
of coastal communities
Our fisheries management is failing us…
>We are losing access to our public fisheries resource!
>Our fisheries are being managed for the benefit of private investors, and increasingly multinational corporations
>Fish mongers, chefs, and restaurateurs can’t get local fish to sell
>Canadians can’t get local fish to feed their families
>Fishing families have lost their voice
>Fishing communities have lost their jobs
>Fish harvesters and communities are disappearing from our coast
Number of personal commercial fishing licences reflecting the number of fishing jobs in British Columbia, 1985-2015.
Why does this matter?
BC wild fisheries provide a bounty of values to coastal communities and Canadians. Our Pacific fisheries are a critical source of local healthy food, a key contributor to our economy, a provider of jobs, a connector to nature, and for the many communities along our BC coast, a foundation of our identity itself.
Our deeply rooted connection to the sea, and all the varied values we gain from it, are being increasingly put at risk. We must ensure British Columbian wild fisheries are managed for the benefit of all Canadians from fish harvester to seafood lover – from our waters to our dinner table.
Variety of values from fishing are linked
BC fisheries are strongly rooted in a sense of community, with fish harvesters at the centre, serving as providers of food and knowledge. For many, this industry is more than a livelihood, it is a family business, a community identity and a personal identity. There is an important intergenerational component to this industry as it requires previous generations’ knowledge to succeed. This social and cultural sustainability feeds into coastal ecological integrity.
Community Values build on the wholesale and landed value of fish
Our BC fisheries must maintain ecological integrity while meeting the socioeconomic needs of our society. Ultimately, sustainable BC fisheries should, and with the right policies can once again, provide meaningful work and sustainable livelihoods, contribute to local food security and a sustainable global food supply, while supporting vibrant cultures and resilient coastal economies.
What can be done?
Fisheries management in BC is not meeting the needs of our fish harvesters, and increasingly creating a desperate situation in rural coastal communities. We continue to invest hundreds of millions annually in protecting and stewarding our precious resource, but for whom? We have many healthy and active fisheries and hundreds of millions of dollars in seafood are harvested from our waters each year, but in whose pockets does this end up? Increasingly the vast social, cultural, and economic benefits from this resource are being lost to our communities and fish harvesters with devastating consequences. What can be done about it? Is it even possible to recapture the many benefits of BC fisheries for current and future BC generations?
YES! There is an opportunity for Policy Reform right now!
The Canadian Government and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is currently reviewing the 20 recommendations from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which addresses BC fisheries licensing policy and how that affects who receives the benefits.
This is our chance to tell Ottawa that we need a system that works for hard-working BC fish harvesters and their communities, rather than line the pockets of speculative investors who’ve never been on the deck of a boat, and do not contribute back to our communities!