COMMERCIAL FISHERIES:  PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

 

UFAWU-Unifor’s Convention focused on identifying problems facing active fishermen and possible solutions.  This is just a start – we are encouraging fish harvesters to meet over the next 4 months to continue to add to this list. 

 

The Union will keep updating everyone here and at our UFAWU-Unifor Fishermen Facebook Page.

 

We believe that as fishermen work over these problems/solutions, a general consensus can be reached that active fish harvesters can pitch to government.

 
 
 
2.  MORE FISH

 

Problem:  Commercial Fishermen need access to more fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solutions:

  • More enhancement facilities to produce salmon in areas where we can harvest them –

    • and use them as production facilities – fill all hatcheries to capacity (gvt needs to renew its commitment to production hatcheries)

    • more money from governments (Federation lobby)

 

  • Community Regional Salmon Development (Alaska-style ocean ranching)

    • Coastal enhancement – like McLaughlin Bay

    • Outplanting – use DFO hatcheries and outplant fry to an area where there are not mixed stock fishery problems

    • Investing -a levy from fishermen – cost recovery fishery to support production costs

      • New fish- new opportunities for harvests

      • Needs buy-in from First Nations as projects in their territories

      • Other groups – objections – need to get public backing

 

  • Round tables everywhere

    • Agreements can lead to more fishing opportunities

 

  • Use of small bite fisheries

    • Tied to round tables

      • Facilitation is very necessary.It needs to be from outside organizations, not DFO

    • DFO managers must come up with reference points

    • On WCVI the assessments are fisheries drivers

    • Does not cost DFO much – Fishers pay by fishing – dependent on fish quantity and price – fishermen have to commit to complete the survey (the small bite fishery)

 

  • need a ‘fishermen’s biologist

    • Need to effectively challenge DFO mortality rates on bycatch that are hampering our ability to fish

    • Need to effectively challenge DFO on required escapement numbers and low harvest rates

 1.  PROBLEMS / SOLUTIONS 

Fishermen speak out:   Is everything really okay in your fishery?

 

The fleet is aging - as are fishermen.

 

Value retained by active fishermen is declining, while export value is increasing.

 

Few young people are choosing fishing as a profession- it is too costly to buy in, catches are uncertain, and earnings are too small.  

 

Older fishermen want to retire - but can't sell their boat, gear or license at a reasonable price.

BCFisherman.ca is a website reserved for the 'Problems / Solutions Series'.  There will be a comment section after each subject.

 

We encourage writers to submit many different viewpoints about problems in our fisheries and solutions.  It takes ideas from all fishermen from all fisheries to build new fishery policies that will benefit working fishermen.

We will post all comments that we receive, no matter what the writer’s viewpoint, as long as they are not defamatory.

 

Or write your own problem/solutions PAPER and send it to:  ufawu.unifor@yahoo.com    We will publish it on this site.

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3.  New Fishers Old Fishers

Problem: Young people are NOT seeing fishing as a  

career, 

Retiring fishermen cannot sell licenses/quota

at a reasonable income for retirement.

 

Solutions:

  • Attract young fishermen by lower costs to get into fishing.

  • License banks (like NNFC or NFA) where new fishermen can lease licenses/quota at a reasonable price.  Alaska is doing this now.

 

  • Community owned licenses/quota – lease out to fishermen – like PICFI but for everyone.

    • Diverse fisheries – not just license banks for salmon but for access to all fisheries

  • Owner operator / fleet separation – get rid of license speculation -  keep license/quota prices real

  • Fishermen’s Loan Board for seasonal start-up loans and and licence/quota purchase costs. 

    • Low cost provincial loans – every province except BC and Alberta has a Fishermen’s Loan Board

    • Help for all fishermen and for new fishermen to access loans

  • Provide a market for licenses/quota so fishermen who want to retire can do so with dignity

  • Government buy-back of licenses no longer active

  • Shared Federal and Provincial government/community/fishermen buy –up of licenses/quota and put into license banks for future distribution (to new fishers or diversified licenses to established fishers)

  • Better fish prices would attract new fishermen and new markets for licenses

 

4. Resource Management

Problem: All fisheries need better resource

                 management

Solutions:

 

Resource management needs to reflect interests of communities, fishermen, tendermen and shoreworkers

  • Open and transparent meetings

  • Meetings need to be near the communities they are impacting

  • Stock assessment– better

    • stream walking - more guardians

    • Use of drones instead of walking in some areas

    • Utilize First Nations’ stream counting reports if DFO not doing

    • Fishermen participate in stream walking

  • Need offshore assessment fisheries to determine run size

  • Fishermen should understand / agree on methodology before DFO uses models to determine TAC in any fishery

  • need a 'fishermen's biologist' to assist fishermen in debates with DFO or other sectors.  They all have their own staff biologists

  • DFO needs more staff

    • need enough C&P so that we are not closed to a lack of fisheries patrolmen / - more guardians –

    • more managers

    • Stable fish management (same people stay in the position)

  • Round tables everywhere

    • Can use outside fishery for in-season assessment of run size (eg Barkley Sound). Fisheries can occur sooner - not rely on in-river assessments after the fish has gone by

  • Industry pays royalty for stream assessment

 

5.  Fish Harvester Representation

 

Problem:  Fishermen are not united –   There are few strong fish harvesters' organizations

 

Solutions:

                

 

 

 

  • Provincially mandated fishermen’s organizations

    • Different Atlantic provinces have different legislation mandating fish harvesters organizations

    • BC's government should create legislation that will ensure all harvesters belong to one organization or another

    • Fishermen need to compare other Provinces legislation and choose the best model for BC

  • Must benefit active commercial fishermen not license investors (unless they are actively fishing)

  • Discussion has to be led by Province

    • Everyone has to pay into an organization – no freeloaders

    • Strengthen other organizations also could strengthen Union

  • Many fishermen are starting to feel that they need unity and so they need to have an organization to represent them.

  • Seafood Alliance says they represent 95% of license holders but they mostly represent the positions of CFC and other large licence/quota investors

  • CSAB is looking at the conservation stamp and asking DFO/ to remit it to the CSAB - how would this benefit salmon and public perception?.

  • Provincially mandated active fishermen organizations will mean that active fish harvesters will not be dominated by investors

  • If all fishermen pay to organizations, they can afford to pay for a biologist

  • How do we engage indigenous fishermen?

 

 

6.  Active Fishermen and Investors - are your interests different?

Problem:  Active fishermen are not represented.  Investors are represented who - may have different goals than active fishermen.

 

Solutions:

  • Seafood Alliance purports to represent 95% of license holders. It represents the interests of investors not active fishermen. Active fish harvesters need a similar organization.

 

  • The Area Harvest Committees and the CSAB represent license holders – as all license holders have a vote.  Active fishermen could be out-voted.  Active fishers need one or more salmon organizations to represent their interests, only.

  • Herring – processors dominate the advisory process.  Fishermen need to take control

  • Halibut – large quota holders dominate representation process.  Would owner-operator make a difference?

  • Prawns – all active prawn fishermen belong to a prawn organization.  One organization represents all prawners so can speak with one voice after internal discussions.

  • Crabs –active license owners only belong to Area A Crab Assn

  • Unity between fishermen or fishermen’s associations is necessary

    • Can’t agree on everything but can on many things

    • Work together on identified issues

    • Fishermen structure their organizations – collect dues/funds for operations.

 

7.  Habitat issues / Predator control

 

Problem:  Enforcement of Habitat Regulations and Predator Threat Control need to occur                                    

Solutions:  

  • Habitat restoration (fisheries / forestry renewal)

 

  • Community education on value of commercial industry in protecting habitat –

  • Building community / government support using the idea that wild salmon protection is important to communities – we need to talk about the positive benefits of shoreworkers and fishermen to social and economic well being of our communities

  • Habitat protection and enforcement of regulations –

    • Pesticide spraying

    • Estuary protection

  • Predator control seals / sea lions

    • Starting to get biological agreement that choices have to be made – to control predators so that seals/s-lions remain as predators but people are also included as predators.

    • Transient killer whales train chinook orcas to eat seals

  • Fish farm control/elimination

  • DFO needs to inspect Large Projects for habitat infractions

  • DFO needs more habitat (conservation) officers

  • DFO needs to enforce sports regulations

    • need to develop a proper sports fishing survey in every area heavily fished - sports fleet has poorest data

    • Undercover operations to identify if the creel surveys are accurate

  • Send people home out of fishery for the day for infractions

 

 

8.  Reconciliation with First Nations

Problem -  First Nations and Commercial Fish Harvesters need to work together to benefit

ALL commercial fisheries.

 

 

 

Solutions:

  • Need to develop an agreed upon a common Coastal Fisheries Strategy with First Nations/Communities/Owner-operators/NNFC/Native Brotherhood/other organizations

  • Help First Nations develop individual operator fisheries for their Economic (PICFI) fisheries

  • Round tables

    • Meet separately from large planning groups with individual First Nations

  • Round tables need to be everywhere

    • Start with Bella Coola on Central Coast

    • In season, allocations can be transferred

    • Positive way to get fishermen fishing – use small bite fisheries as assessment fisheries to permit earlier openings

    • Need facilitators

  • Fishermen and First Nations get together to figure out allocations.

  • Consultants are representing First Nations.

    • Fishermen should talk directly with First Nations to ensure lines of communication are open

  • Indigenous fishers in FN economic fisheries – inland and marine

    • Opportunities for dialogue

    • Help with training in commercial fishing techniques (if skills have faded)

  • Allocations to FN are not necessarily going to indigenous fishers so we need to raise this issue with government and First Nations' communities

    • PICFI allocations can be used to attract young indigenous fishermen and or to improve finances of existing indigenous fishermen through increased catches

    • Commercial fishers can use PICFI as an example of Community-based allocations that can be leased out at nominal costs.

 

9. Large Corporations Buy-up Licences / Quota

 

Problem:  Licences and Quotas are increasingly owned or controlled by large corporations

 

 

 

Solutions:

 

  • Lobby Provincial and Federal governments to prevent this from going ahead

    • Mandatory disclosure on who owns licenses/quotas – no ‘corporate veil’

  • Education – license should be owned by Canadians only

    • Food security – fish is food

    • Canadian taxpayer pays for management but value goes out of Canada

    • Jobs are lost – shore sector and communities suffer

    • Draw parallels with housing ownership in Vancouver

  • Call on federal and provincial governments to increase % of community owned quota (GDA authority over Groundfish Development Quota)

    • Province must represent communities and BC residents

    • Owner-operator – investors can’t own

    • Fleet separation – no processors can own licenses

  • Need to develop method to compensate investors who have already bought quota/licenses

    • A transition fund to permit those fishers who have invested in quota to transition to compensate them for their investments

    • PIICAF gave 7 years to divest yourself of quota that was leased out

    • Lose 10%/year of quota if leased out. The 10% goes into a pool for others

 

10.  Cannery Closure - fleet separation - owner operator - adjacency

 

Problem: Shore jobs are leaving BC

 

Solutions:

  • Adjacency legislation

  • Fleet separation to remove access control from processing corporations

  • Owner-operator to give access back to local fishermen

  • Community involvment in (be part of) Community Regional Salmon Development, Groundfish Development Authority, Community Licence/Quota Banks etc

  • Linkage of communities with advisory boards (eg Alaska Board of Fish)

  • Communities be invited to participate in every advisory process

  • Province buy high Omega 3 fish to use in hospitals, schools, food banks etc all locally processed(example: Aka)

  • Community freezers should be built to encourage local processing and sales of frozen value added product

  • Tax incentives and disincentives should be used by the Province to encourage local value added processing

 

11.  Working with other sectors

Problem: It is very difficult to work with other sectors when we are always under attack.

 

Solutions

  • Sports – fishermen need to identify common areas of concern

 

  • Develop positive relationships by working with different sectors at other tables such as:

    • Marine Planning

    • SMFCA

    • Environmental issues

    • West Coast Aquatic Assn

  • Reach out to conservation groups to explain our issues

  • Work with others on habitat issues

 

12.  Gaining Public Support  

 

Problem:  Public is not educated on fishing matters - Economic, Social, Biological -  How to encounter misinformation

 

Solutions:        

  • Educate, educate, educate

    • Participate in community events

    • salmon in classrooms

    • local hatchery/enhancement                                                           groups

    • habitat cleaning

  • West Coat Fishermen Facebook Group - many non-fishermen belong

  • Save our BC fisheries website – petition

  • Be part of other groups like food security / environmental groups

  • UFAWU-Unifor has a Fishermen Page / Shoreworker Page and Environment Page and a website which answers organizational questions but is not directed at public education.

 

13.  Some fisheries are blocked due to DFO-FN discussions

Problem:  DFO is negotiating Treaty provisions and Marine Zoning Arrangements with some First Nations without meaningful consultations with the commercial fleet.

 

Solutions:

​​

  • Try to set up a round table where impacts can be discussed directly between the First Nation and the commercial fleet

  • The fleet must be able to meet directly with the DFO and Province to discuss impacts

  • DFO, the public and First Nations must be educated to understand that fishermen cannot afford to lose large part of their lucrative fishing grounds due to marine zoning

  • Fishermen should meet with First Nations directly and try to negotiate a mutually acceptable interim arrangement while negotiations are taking place

  • Commercial fishermen should be able to continue to fish while Treaty / Higher Level discussions are going on

  • Real compensation for re-allocation (Not buy up of non-active licenses) 

 

14.  The Union's Convention ran out of time to find solutions to all problems.  Here are additional problems we listed.  What solutions would work?

 

Problems:  - Add and issue important to you or comment on those below:

 

 

 

Solutions:  Please propose your own:                                    

 

Problem:  Capacity - how do we compete with other sectors' biologists/specialists

 

Problem:  $ Resources $ - how do fishermen raise money to pay for representation and projects?

 

Problem:  Corporate ownership of licenses / quota.  Foreign ownership. Is it too late to change?  Or not?

 

What Issue/ Problem is missing?   

What would you like to discuss?

 
 

COMMENTS???

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