Thank You

Thank you for signing the petition to help save our fishing communities. Now let’s take one step further and send a message to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada so they can hear our voice.

Our campaign: Your Coast, Your Fish

To the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

I am writing to you regarding the regulation of West Coast fisheries and asking that your government support a fair and sustainable fishery for current and future generations. This future is within our grasp.

Last May, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) — of which you were formerly the Chair — made 20 recommendations to adjust the licensing regime currently regulating B.C.’s fisheries to support independent fish harvesters and their communities. Many of these recommendations are enshrined in law through Bill C-68 passed in Parliament last June, and protect the rights of inshore fish harvesters along the Atlantic Coast. This legislation is designed to ensure thriving Canadian coastal communities – yet it fails to include communities along the Pacific Coast.

The 20 recommendations on B.C.’s fisheries received unanimous support by the committee. I ask that your department move forward immediately with the recommendations in partnership with coastal First Nations and B.C.’s provincial government.

These actions will start changing the current licence and quota system from a private, unregulated market on fisheries access to one that drives the benefits from our public resource to fish harvesters, First Nations and our rural coastal communities.

Most licences and quota in the province are fully transferrable — they can be sold, leased, or held in control agreements by investors and corporations who don’t need to disclose who is benefitting from our public resource. These owners hold close to 50 per cent of licences and quota in the province. B.C. fish harvesters must then lease this quota back — for up to 80 per cent of their catch’s estimated value — for the right to fish. The result? B.C. fish harvesters must survive off a knife-edge profit margin and often can’t afford to invest the time and money needed to make their communities thrive. Many leave the industry altogether. It is a system designed for corporate investors who may not necessarily have ties to coastal communities or the Canadians that you represent.

Using the FOPO recommendations we can update the current management regime to help achieve greater social and economic equity, ecosystem health, and far greater accessibility, transparency, accountability, and basic fairness in our B.C. fisheries. We must follow through on these recommendations to ensure that our harvesters and communities control licences and quota, that the independence of active fish harvesters is secured, and that licences and quota and their landed value are in the hands of fish harvesters and their communities.

I want to see small processors, local independent fish harvesters, and small-scale, community- and family-owned fishing businesses driving our coastal economy. Good jobs will follow, our rural coastal communities will thrive, and our coastal cultures will flourish. We have achieved this vision on Canada’s East Coast in spite of the 1992 cod moratorium — the West Coast deserves the same.

Canadians will once again have access to the value of the fish caught in our seas. Harvesters will be able to provide the bounty our oceans offer to families and small, local businesses — fish mongers, chefs, restaurateurs — delivering a quality supply of local fish for their dinner tables and their customers. This will improve food security by providing Canadians with access to our seafood.

The FOPO report sets the agenda to create policies that will ensure the benefits from fishing stay with harvesters and coastal communities, that will ensure they have the resources to be stewards of our coastal ecosystems, and that will give us more control over the safety and quality of seafood available to Canadians.

I want to ensure that our fish harvesters, our communities, and Canadian citizens will benefit from our public fisheries resource for generations to come.

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