Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This petition couldn't be more timely given that it is on the morning of the announcement for independent fish harvesters, which overall was a good announcement, Mr. Chair.
This petition is about licensing and the inequality of licensing in British Columbia. With so much corporate and investor ownership of licences, we want to make sure that government, in that funding, makes sure that it goes to those who need it. and not those who don't.
The petition is with regard to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which provided 20 recommendations to government last May. The consultations with independent fish harvesters, community organizations and industry identified the need for transparent fishing licensing and quota ownership. It is currently not known where the benefits are, or if fishery resources are truly flowing. Some of them are foreign owned, and we don't even know who owns the fish licences.
Right now this is certainly more important than ever. Many of the fish harvesters are locked into agreements based on last year's prices, and they're going to be bankrupt before they even leave the dock. We're disappointed that this wasn't addressed. They're calling on the government to commit to a timeline and a plan that respects and addresses the 20 recommendations laid out in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans report entitled “West Coast Fisheries: Sharing Risks and Benefits”. They're hopeful that the minister will actually take action for this season and make sure that there is more sharing of risks and benefits here for independent fish harvesters.