Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 15 of 957
View Ken Hardie Profile
Lib. (BC)
The committee dropped a report—our 21st—in Parliament last week on the whole issue of sharing risks and rewards in the west coast fishery, which seemed to have drifted badly out of balance. I know that it's early days and you have a lot on your plate, but I'm wondering if you've had any first-blush reactions to that report.
View Jonathan Wilkinson Profile
Lib. (BC)
First of all, I want to thank the committee for the work. It's certainly very interesting and I think has very thoughtful recommendations with respect to a range of issues on the west coast that are quite different from those on the east coast.
I have met with many stakeholders who have wanted to talk about these issues. Certainly we have listened, and we are thinking within the department on some of these issues, but what I have told them is that we're not going to launch a major project on this while the committee itself is doing the study. We are going to wait for the committee's report. We are going to consider the committee's report. We will obviously respond to the committee's report, and we will do so in a thoughtful way.
Certainly, there are a lot of issues that have been raised. As even people like Melanie Sonnenberg—who I'm sure you have met with many times—will tell you, it's very difficult to unscramble the omelette. Certainly, the issues around economic benefits and some of the other broader issues that were raised in the report are some things that we're going to think very seriously about.
View Gord Johns Profile
When can we expect a response from the government for the “West Coast Fisheries: Sharing Risks and Benefits” report? Do you have a timeline?
Timothy Sargent
View Timothy Sargent Profile
Timothy Sargent
2019-05-13 16:30
We don't have a timeline as yet. We're really taking the time that it needs to analyze the report. We are actively looking at it right now.
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2019-02-20 15:45
Good afternoon, everyone.
Pursuant to standing order 108(2), the study of the regulation of the west coast fisheries—
Mr. Donnelly, do you have your hand up?
View Ken McDonald Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Ken McDonald Profile
2019-02-20 15:45
Just for the information of the committee, I know that an invitation went out to the minister to call him in to speak to us on the vessel length study. It was his intent to come on the 25th of February, but he's not available. We're going to try to set up another date as early as possible. I would remind members that he will be here on the estimates, I believe on March 18.
All right. We'll continue with our study.
We have witnesses here in person and by video conference.
By video conference, we have Jim McIsaac. As well, from the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, we have the Executive Director, Aaron Hill, and Senior Fisheries Adviser Greg Taylor.
In person, from the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, we have Richard Williams, Research Director. From Ecotrust Canada, we have Tasha Sutcliffe, Vice-President of Programs. From Greenways Land Trust, we have Cynthia Bendickson, Executive Director. From the Vancouver Island Health Authority, we have Analisa Blake, Project Manager of Public Health.
We'll start with our presentations from witnesses.
Mr. McIsaac, you're up first, for seven minutes or less. I'll have to be very strict on the time.
Jim McIsaac
View Jim McIsaac Profile
Jim McIsaac
2019-02-20 15:47
Honourable Chair and committee members, I'm honoured to be invited to speak to you today.
This topic is critically important for the future of B.C. fisheries and our coast. If the government wants to ensure that the benefits from our fisheries and fishing licences go to harvesters on the coastal communities, you must articulate these objectives and fund the department to make it so.
I've been involved in commercial fisheries for over 40 years, with 25 years as a fisherman. Currently, I'm the executive director of a fisheries foundation. I chair the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, and I sit on the executive for the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters' Federation. I'm involved in herring and groundfish IFMP processes and track a few others. I sit in many MPA processes, and I participate in multiple integrated marine planning processes along our coast, led by B.C. first nations and regional governments.
Interestingly, all of the endorsed integrated marine plans on our coast call for community-based fisheries. DFO has all but left the integrated marine planning field in B.C. This is a story for another day.
Unlike some of my colleagues on the east coast, I can speak to the history of the fisheries on the B.C. coast. I've had the privilege of fishing from Portland Canal to Juan de Fuca Strait, and from Knight Inlet to Rennell Sound. I have spent time in almost every community along our coast. It hurts me to tell you that the community connection to fisheries is dying, just like fishermen's connections to licences are dying.
Most rural communities along our coast are in decline. Health, education, population, incomes, youth retention, infrastructure, the number of vessels, new vessels, and connection to fisheries are all in decline. Yet these communities all want to strengthen the connection to fisheries. Why? We studied this exact question. Simply put, along with the tangible economic values, commercial fisheries bring intangible values to our coastal communities. These intangible values form the cultural fabric connecting communities to ecosystems, building on the economic values.
Two years ago, the Minister of Fisheries asked the department to undertake a study similar to yours. The department drafted a two-stage approach and started stage one, the background research, last June. When this committee passed the motion to undertake this study, the minister instructed the department to down tools. The department identified that they would finish the background piece in time for your study. Hopefully you've seen that.
There are some 65 gear, species, labour, area, and producer organizations in the B.C. fisheries. No one organization represents a majority of fish harvesters. Many of these associations are controlled by licence and quota holders, including processors, and not active fishermen. Just as with producer and processor associations on land, the interests are vastly different.
I want to talk to you about two research initiatives that are relevant to your study. The first compares the northern B.C. herring fishery with southeast Alaska's. It is very interesting, given the relatively similar ecosystems, to see the vastly different socio-economic systems we've created. In northern B.C. there are no communities with a fisheries economy, yet in southeast Alaska, multiple communities have robust fisheries economies.
I would point you to three differences that are relevant to your study. First, in southeast Alaska there are clear overarching social objectives supporting a coastal fisheries economy that go along with the conservation objectives. Second, the decision-making and governance system rotates through and is connected with the coastal communities. Third, they strictly enforce boots-on-the-deck access: If you have a licence, you'd better fish it.
The second research initiative I wanted to speak about is the Canadian Fisheries Research Network. It involves a nationwide industry, academic and government collaboration to draft a comprehensive, sustainable fisheries evaluation framework. Last year, the network reported on a major paper. We compared every major sustainability framework on the planet, including DFO's own sustainable fisheries framework, and crafted a comprehensive version.
Most sustainable frameworks crafted prior to 2012 are now called sustainable fisheries 1.0. They focused almost exclusively on ecological sustainability—the yellow circle in the graphic that I circulated. They all lack human dimensions of sustainability. This sustainable fisheries 1.0 formed a basis for MSC—marine stewardship certification. They were raked over the coals in 2012 for certifying fisheries that employed slave labour. The point is that both ecological and human dimensions are needed for sustainable fisheries.
In the middle of my graphic, you'll see a fisheries enterprise. There are three core components for a fisheries enterprise—harvester knowledge, technology and legal access. At the core, legal access is what your study is about. Legal access is the government's main tool for managing harvesters. Governments create and issue licences and quotas, set input and output controls, identify who can use them and whether they can be sold, transferred, traded or leased. In reality, government policy—or lack thereof—frames the market for licences.
We have examples where policy prohibits the transfer, effectively setting the market value at zero. Of course, there are creative ways around policy, as you have seen with PIIFCAF and control agreements in Atlantic Canada.
If fisheries are a public resource to be managed for the public good, is there an obligation for governments to create a market so that investors make a profit from trading in licences? Some would say yes: Under the guise of certainty and stability, there is a right to profit from trading in licences. However, Rob Walton told the 2017 World Ocean Summit that corporations are not entitled to exist; they must earn it. Similarly, profit is not a right; it must be earned.
As one fisherman told the committee, he couldn't sleep in and catch his fish. Why should a licence holder, without boat, gear, crew, electronic monitoring, or knowledge of fish or tides be entitled to profit without fishing? Neither investor, nor processor, nor fisherman should be entitled to profit from our public resource. They should earn it.
My second slide shows the increased licence and quota value, pegged at $2.3 billion at the start of last year. This increasing valuation stands in stark contrast to the decreasing incomes for fishermen. Why? Simply put, the benefits from the fishery have been stripped from the risks. The cream—over a third of the landed value, $130 million last year—is taken off the top in licence and quota fees. Over $1 billion has been lost by harvesters in coastal communities over the last decade.
This is why fishermen have no money to build new boats. This is why our communities are in decline. This has deepened the government conflict with first nations along our coast. If the government wants to ensure that the benefits of fishing licences go to harvesters and coastal communities, it is imperative for you to clearly articulate these objectives, fund the department to make it so, and require annual progress reports on these objectives. In the meantime, support the call for a minimum standard: a shared benefit-risk agreement for all fisheries where licences and quotas are leased.
In closing, Canada's fish vendors, processors and distributors have access to domestic markets that are hungry for fish. Governments have opened up international markets that are similarly hungry for fish. With this unprecedented access, there is no need for fleecing local harvesters and coastal communities. Let's get this corrected, so that future generations benefit from our abundant resources.
Thank you.
Aaron Hill
View Aaron Hill Profile
Aaron Hill
2019-02-20 15:55
We'd like to share our time, if that's okay.
Aaron Hill
View Aaron Hill Profile
Aaron Hill
2019-02-20 15:55
Thank you very much to the committee for the opportunity to report to you on this very important issue.
Watershed Watch Salmon Society is a B.C.-based charity. We were founded 20 years ago. We advocate for the conservation of wild Pacific salmon and their habitats. From our inception, we have been actively engaged in many aspects of the management of the Pacific salmon fisheries, ranging from marine stewardship council certifications to multi-stakeholder management committees.
I'm the executive director. I hold a master's degree in ecology. I worked for several years as an observer on commercial and recreational salmon fisheries, and I've sat at numerous federally mandated fishery management advisory tables.
My colleague, Greg Taylor, is our senior fisheries adviser. He holds a master's degree in resource management. He was the vice-president of fisheries management for oceans fisheries and has led several commercial fishing organizations. He represents the Pacific Marine Conservation Caucus at DFO's integrated harvest-planning committees for salmon. He is the chair of the multi-stakeholder Pacific Fisheries Monitoring Compliance Panel. He is also the CEO of Talok Fisheries, a first nations-owned commercial fishing enterprise here in B.C.
He is our expert on this file, so he is going to conduct the rest of the presentation.
Greg Taylor
View Greg Taylor Profile
Greg Taylor
2019-02-20 15:56
Thank you, Aaron.
Thank you, Jim. I think we come from a similar era in the B.C. fisheries.
Watershed Watch Salmon Society has been a strong supporter of the introduction of catch shares and individual transferable quotas in B.C.'s commercial fisheries, because they address the following conservation and governance challenges that the commercial sector was facing prior to the introduction of ITQs. At the time, there was an inability of fleets to fish within the fleet-wide total allowable catch. There were incentives to misreport on log books and sales transactions. There were poor fisheries monitoring and compliance. Fleets were more motivated by the race for fish than building a well-managed and economically and ecologically sustainable fishery. There is inadequate stock assessment and monitoring. There is a lack of a mechanism to transfer catch shares between the commercial fleet and first nations, and there is difficulty in controlling the fishing power of the fleet in situations where managers saw smaller TACs or allocations available.
The ITQ and the catch-share programs have been successful in resolving many of the above issues in many B.C. fisheries, because they resolve many of the well-known issues associated with open-access fisheries. They applied and allocated rights to the fisheries. They introduced incentives for fleets to invest in co-operative solutions to stock assessment and fishery monitoring challenges. They require rigorous monitoring, control and surveillance measures paid for by industry, and they led to effective collaborative governance of fisheries.
We acknowledge shortcomings in ITQs. There is no doubt they have been well identified, so ITQs for sure are not perfect. ITQs are not the only solution to the problems defined above. Indigenous and artisanal fisheries in B.C. and around the world often involve effective strategies to address similar issues. Also, we do not disagree that ITQs create social and economic inequities. We do believe, however, that ITQs and catch shares are the best option to implement effective governance and encourage sustainable management of fisheries.
The United Nations Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, FAO, argues that effective governance, along with strong monitoring control and surveillance, is necessary to ensure that the demand for the fishery resource does not outstrip the biological capacity of that resource.
Encouraging effective and integrated fisheries governance and MCS—monitoring, control and surveillance—in Canada is critical, as Fisheries and Oceans does not have the resources to effectively manage and monitor fisheries on its own. Whatever fails were exhibited in stock assessment, fisheries management, stock and compliance monitoring and enforcement before ITQs and catch shares were implemented have only gotten worse. Fisheries and Oceans Canada requires the co-operation, resources and confidence that first nations, commercial fishers, processors and anglers can bring to resolving these issues.
For this to be effective in the context of this being a public resource, the governance must be self-regulating, have sufficient capacity to generate resource rents to pay for the stock assessment and monitoring activities, and be transparent. ITQs generate these attributes.
The history of implementing ITQs has been filled with controversy and conflict. I attended the first meetings on developing halibut ITQs in the early 1990s on behalf of the First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia. Interestingly, FCBC was against the introduction of ITQs at the time. As consultations on the introduction of halibut ITQs continued, they formed a pattern that was seen through the introduction of similar programs in other fisheries. People were either for them or against them. As discussions progressed, positions became more and more entrenched, and nuance was lost. The well-recognized distributional shortcomings of ITQs were not addressed in an increasingly bitter debate.
We think it is important to address these shortcomings, but not at the expense of weakening the important conservation, governance, and monitoring, control and surveillance benefits that are achieved through the introduction of ITQs and catch shares in B.C.'s commercial fisheries.
We would also warn legislators that entrenched powerful interests on both sides of the debate remain. It would be wrong and ill-conceived to fall into the trap of believing that the debate is one of small-scale fishermen on one side and corporate interests on another. The political landscape is much more fractured and convoluted.
It would be a serious error to open up debate without first establishing that the conservation, governance and monitoring benefits captured in the current ITQ and catch share regime be enshrined in any future changes, if Canada is to remain true to its own and international guidelines for the precautionary management of fisheries.
In conclusion, Watershed Watch supports dialogue that may lead to increasing access for young fishermen, economic and social benefits for coastal and first nations communities, and community or co-operative resource ownership and control. In fact, we believe that current demographic, economic and social shifts may mean that the time is right to encourage expanded commercial fishing and processing opportunities for smaller coastal and first nation communities. Again—and this is the key—we cannot do so at the expense of the conservation and governance benefits that ITQs and catch shares have achieved thus far.
Thank you.
Richard Williams
View Richard Williams Profile
Richard Williams
2019-02-20 16:03
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appear today as research director for the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, the national human resources sector council for the fish harvesting industry across Canada. Our primary focus is labour force renewal.
We have submitted to committee staff a recent report on the serious demographic challenges now facing the industry. The report provides compelling evidence of industry dysfunction and policy failure in the Pacific region: failing harvester incomes, severe labour supply challenges and poor economic returns relative to comparable fisheries in Atlantic Canada and Alaska.
It seems clear from testimony before this committee that something needs to be done to mitigate the unfair distribution of economic benefits in the B.C. fishery and to put the industry on a stronger growth track. Representatives from the corporate sector have acknowledged the need for some moderation in quota leasing costs, but have argued strongly against a more substantial shift in B.C. They make three basic assertions: one, aside from the leasing cost issue, the B.C. industry is performing optimally, or “it ain't broke, so don't fix it”; two, vertical integration and open market access in fishing rights are essential for managing overcapacity and building a competitive industry; and three, the B.C. fishery is too complex to withstand a major policy shift without risk to everyone.
There is insufficient time here to debate the first point, but by any standard measure of success—employment, incomes, export earnings—the B.C. industry is not on the growth path we see in other regions. Some of this evidence is appended to the testimony I've provided.
On the second point, the case for vertical integration is weak in the fishery. In theory, corporate ownership of licences provides secure access to raw materials that should spur investment in harvesting and processing technology, R and D and market development. If the theory worked in reality, we would be seeing company fleets of new high-tech fishing vessels, with well-paid and well-trained crews, and much more value-added processing in B.C. Instead, we find companies offloading financial risk onto independent harvesters, moving processing operations offshore, and leasing out their licences rather than fishing them. Ironically, we see much more positive investment and innovation trends in the Atlantic, where vertical integration is constrained.
Lastly, the argument that the B.C. industry is too complex to risk a major policy shift is, frankly, specious. The Atlantic fishery has many more fleet sectors, four DFO regions and five provincial jurisdictions, and it has weathered many large-scale transitions: the 1990s groundfish collapse, shifts to quota management in many fisheries, rapid expansion of indigenous access, and extensive capacity reduction—phenomena we have seen in B.C., but on a much larger scale. Yet, stock conservation and industry growth outcomes have improved dramatically since the 1990s in the Atlantic. We believe this is precisely because the owner-operator and fleet separation policies have given everyone—harvesters, processors, communities and governments—a stake in advancing the industry. We've submitted a separate paper just on this topic.
Put quite simply, all fisheries are complex, but that is not a reason to avoid changes if policies and industry structures are not meeting sustainable growth objectives. The relative success of the Atlantic fishery, we believe, is built on three policy foundations: owner-operator, fleet separation and adjacency. Could such foundations be developed in B.C.? These are decisions to be made by stakeholders in B.C., but experience in other jurisdictions provides options and guidance on process.
First, the almost universal experience has been that large-scale changes in fisheries policy require harvester leadership, engagement and buy-in. In B.C., steps would need to be taken to strengthen organizations representing active harvesters and to expand their role in advisory committees.
Second, an important first step would be for the minister to establish a time frame with sufficient runway for licences to change hands through more or less normal market processes or transactions. The best operational example, of course, is PIIFCAF, which established a hard stop at seven years, after which all licences had to be in the hands of active owner-operators. This was planned to provide sufficient time for most holders of trust agreements to divest them without severe financial losses.
Third, a licence exchange board could be established to buy and sell licences at prices regulated according to fair market value within an owner-operator fleet separation context. This model exists in Europe. It could be established under federal or provincial legislation, as a federal-provincial partnership, as an independent Crown corporation or as a non-profit. Sellers could receive a one-time payment or pension income with tax advantages through annuities. New entrants could lease, lease to own, or purchase with the board holding a mortgage.
Fourth, reverse auction processes have been used in some jurisdictions to implement licence transfers without stoking price inflation. Over 10% of lobster licences in gulf New Brunswick were retired over five or six years when the Maritime Fishermen's Union invited owner-operators to submit bids on their selling prices and then accepted the lowest bids.
Fifth, to buy licences from companies and investors, new entrant harvesters will need access to affordable capital. Fisheries loan boards, loan guarantee programs and other financial services provide such access. The fisheries loan boards in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick recently changed their policies to provide loans for licences and quota, as well as vessels, and they have special programs for young new entrants. The Canadian Farm Loan Board provides generous grants, affordable credit, and business management training for young people to acquire farms and equipment. Local government agencies and industry organizations in Maine, Alaska, Iceland and Norway make small quotas or lobster trap allotments available at no cost to get young people started in fisheries.
Sixth, there are a number of social enterprise models in operation in different jurisdictions. Non-profit licence banks, controlled by harvesters and/or community boards, purchase access rights in the open market and make them available at affordable lease rates to active harvesters and new entrants. Co-operatives, owned by active harvesters, could purchase quota to share among members at affordable costs. First nations communities collectively own licences and quota, and they train and equip individual harvesters to become vessel operators.
A transition strategy for B.C. should be determined by B.C. industry stakeholders. The main point is that there are lots of working models to learn from and adapt. Bill C-68 will soon provide the DFO minister with the legislative scope to initiate a significant shift in Pacific region policy.
We strongly encourage this committee to recommend to the minister the development of owner-operator, fleet separation, and adjacency policies appropriate to British Columbia fleets and fisheries.
Thank you.
Tasha Sutcliffe
View Tasha Sutcliffe Profile
Tasha Sutcliffe
2019-02-20 16:10
First, I want to thank all of you for doing this study. Many, including me, are hopeful that this will result in positive change in B.C. fisheries.
I've been here before, but for those who don't know me, I lead the fisheries program at Ecotrust Canada. I care deeply about the issues being discussed here, and not just because it is my job. I have worked in fisheries for the past 30 years, beginning with deckhanding on my father's boat.
I want to start by addressing questions from earlier proceedings about corporate control and concentration in licence ownership.
First and foremost, this is extremely difficult to track, even for government, due to the lack of transparency in the licensing system. However, through an information request to DFO for 2017 data, we can see that of the 345 licence and quota holders in the groundfish trawl, halibut and sablefish fisheries, the top 26, or 7.4%, hold 50% of the quota value, and the top four, or 1.2%, hold 50% of all the quota pounds. We can also see that the majority of groundfish quota pounds are not fished by owner-operators. They are held by processors, overseas companies and even fishing family companies that for the most part no longer fish the majority of their quota.
As for overseas investment, besides a few large companies, this is very hard to trace, but there are examples. For instance, you may have heard of the recent scandal with money laundering through gambling and real estate in B.C. We traced one company that has been investing in groundfish and now owns 5.9 million pounds of quota. The director of this company is the same overseas investor named in newspaper articles on money laundering through casinos and real estate in Vancouver.
The key point here is that this is a Canadian public resource, and yet it is extremely difficult to confirm who owns the licences and the quota, never mind the level of control and benefit that is left flowing to fishermen, first nations and adjacent communities.
These patterns are occurring across many fisheries, and we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. We can't determine the full level of concentration and who is really making the money, because there are back-end trust agreements and other mechanisms that hide the true beneficial ownership. There are multiple subsidiaries of listed companies that are nearly impossible to link up, and there are fishermen attached to licences and quota who have no real ownership and certainly are not getting the value of those assets. Because we have no owner-operator or fleet separation policy, there is no guarantee that the vessel owner and the quota owner are the same, or even that either of them is a fisherman.
Further, in a previous session, someone asked if you had to have a licence to hold quota. You do have to attach quota to a licence for species—for example, a halibut L tab—but you do not need to be a licensed, registered fisherman to buy those licences. Any investor from anywhere can set up a B.C. business, buy a halibut licence and quota, and attach them to someone else's vessel.
Another question raised is whether vertical integration affects landed value. Landed value used to be a proxy for income going into fishermen's pockets. Now, with increased leasing and B.C. buyer control over prices, this is far from being the case. In B.C., there are numerous examples of fishermen getting less than a fair share of their product's value. They are price-takers. In some cases, this is because so much of the would-be landed value goes out to leases, and in other cases it's because they are not paid landed value but rather a lower price per pound or, in effect, a wage set by the owners of the licences and the quota.
Here's an example, for sea cucumber, of how current policy allows landed value manipulation. Sea cucumber is landed for $18 a kilogram and is then sold dried wholesale for as much as $1,000 a kilogram. The vessel and crew get $5 of that after leasing and monitoring costs, and they still have to cover expenses such as fuel. Even with the weight conversion, only a small fraction of the value—as low as 1% to 2%—goes to harvesters or stays in adjacent B.C. communities.
To be clear, processors are a critical part of the fishery. They add value to fish. They get it to market and create good local jobs, but as can be seen in Atlantic Canada, processors do not need to own all the licences and quota to be successful businesses and for the industry to thrive. In fact, a number of processors in B.C. are also being adversely affected by this system. To access supply, many processors have to purchase or lease quota at high prices and make it available to the vessels that fish for them. They are forced, too, to compete to maintain their supply, which can increase their costs and contribute to lease price inflation.
I want to take a minute to touch on the way forward. There needs to be a set of guiding principles for the process and objectives for the outcomes, such as PIIFCAF has for Atlantic Canada. For example, principles should include that it must be a collaborative and transparent process, and it mustn't adversely affect conservation objectives, as others have said.
The tools and practices from the current system, such as monitoring and leasing bycatch species, are all still doable under a policy framework that puts licences and quota in the hands of fishermen and their communities. It does not have to be at the cost of conservation outcomes. It needs to avoid harm to active fishermen and those entangled in the current system. A 70-year-old harvester who has fished for 50 years but can't afford a boat or a licence before he retires must not be pushed out of the fishery. There also needs to be consideration for those who, to secure their fishing livelihoods, become over-leveraged in the current system. It also needs to support first nations' reconciliation objectives in fisheries.
Ecotrust will submit more detailed recommendations for policy and program options to improve outcomes, but I'll say here that key elements to consider include the following: made-in-B.C. owner-operator and fleet separation policies that, by definition and terms, meet the unique needs of each fishery; a fish harvester loan board to help provide affordable access to capital that does not hinder independence; locally designed community and/or harvester-led licence banks that may act as a transition support, help new entrants or those who can't afford to buy in, or provide an alternative means of community access where needed; a finite timeline with clear, stated outcomes, one long enough for people to get out but not so long that we lose more capacity and community assets; an easily accessible and complete public registry of all licence and quota holders that identifies the true beneficial ownership; and an environment where fishermen have real representation, as they do in other provinces, and where speaking out for change does not compromise one's livelihood.
The system is complex, and change must be thoughtfully made, but this is not an excuse not to meet that challenge. The current licensing policy is not working, and time is of the essence. Policy must be developed that ensures that the benefits of our seafood resources stay in our communities. The cost is too high not to.
My written brief, which I'll submit, includes further evidence to support what I've presented here, and I hope that it supports the change, much needed in our Pacific coast.
Thank you for your time.
Cynthia Bendickson
View Cynthia Bendickson Profile
Cynthia Bendickson
2019-02-20 16:19
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Cynthia Bendickson, and I am the executive director at Greenways Land Trust, in Campbell River, B.C. Greenways is a small environmental charity that supports a food security network for the Strathcona Regional District.
Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to you today as part of the review. This issue is incredibly fascinating, and I am heartened to see our government taking an interest in it.
Fisheries management on the west coast touches on much of the global economic discourse that has taken place after the 2008 financial crisis on globalization, capitalism and inequality.
I first came to be aware of the socio-economic issues in our local fisheries management when I was hosting community meetings to develop a food security needs assessment for Island Health. The purpose of this assessment was to determine what assets each of our communities had in terms of enabling people's reliable access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
Food security has many definitions, but often included is the concept of sustainable food systems that ensure that the food we consume is produced or harvested in such a way that it can continue forever. Well-managed wild capture fisheries are an important component of sustainable food systems. They can produce a huge amount of high-quality, nutritious food indefinitely, as long as the fish and their ecosystems are protected and stewarded.
Current fisheries management on the west coast has encouraged large fishing companies at the expense of small, independent fishers. This has had a significant impact on the food security of coastal communities.
To illustrate this, I want to tell you about Tahsis, B.C. Tahsis is a remote coastal community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is located at the head of a mountainous inlet, and once you reach the mouth there is nothing but the Pacific Ocean between you and Japan. It is the epitome of the rugged west coast.
In its heyday, Tahsis was home to 2,500 people, a sawmill, a school and two churches. Like many of our coastal communities over the past decades, the changes in our economy have taken a toll. The sawmill closed in 2001 and most people moved on. Some people stayed, and newcomers have moved in, some attracted by low housing prices and others by the remoteness. There are artists, seniors and a few working families. Tahsis now has around 500 full-time residents and 1,500 during the summer fishing season.
There has been talk of some members of the nearby Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation coming back to live on their reserve near the community, but it is difficult for anyone to move to Tahsis because of the lack of jobs. However, the fishing is excellent and the village is trying to reinvent itself as an ecotourism destination.
Food security—particularly access to food—is difficult in Tahsis. After the closure of the Gold River grocery store three years ago, the closest grocery store is in Campbell River, which is a three-hour, 150-kilometre drive away, with half of that on gravel logging roads over steep mountain passes.
Over the past decade, the community has pulled together to figure out ways to increase its food security. There is now a thriving community garden, a local food exchange, and the school has a breakfast and lunch program supported by community volunteers. The school participates in Farm to School BC, using produce from the community garden because there are no farms in Tahsis. New this winter, a dedicated group of community volunteers started a good food box program, bringing in affordable vegetables once a month for over 35 families.
When I held my first community meeting in Tahsis, over 20 people attended, which told me immediately how important food security is to the community. We discussed many things, but the main issue that piqued my interest was the mention of the lack of local seafood. How could this be? During the summer there are dozens of sport fishing boats at the docks, and there is even a small fish processing facility in the village so that the American and European tourists can have their fish processed before it is shipped home. This community had bountiful seafood right on its doorstep, much closer than the grocery store, and it was obviously interested in providing for itself.
It is illegal to sell or barter for fish caught on a sport fishing licence. If they couldn't afford a fishing guide like the wealthy tourists, their own licence would cost less than $30. Why didn't they just go out and get some?
There are significant barriers, even with a licence being affordable. Fishing is expensive. A friend once told me that buying a boat is like standing in a cold shower and ripping up $100 bills. After five years of owning my own boat, I'd have to say he was right. On top of that, there are rods, tackle, charts, life jackets, and so on. Once you've invested in gear, the investment of time is required, which can be considerable, especially if you lack local fishing knowledge and the knowledge needed to process and prepare your catch.
Once I understood these barriers, I wondered why there were no commercial fishers in Tahsis anymore. Many community members assured me that they used to be there. Why couldn't they just buy seafood from a local commercial fisher?
It was at that point that I really went down the rabbit hole of—I'm sure you've heard this part from people who are much more knowledgeable than I am—quotas, leasing, consolidation, vertical integration, increasing capital requirements, increasing efficiency, armchair fishermen, and all of this leading to a reduction in independent fishers—fishers who are part of the communities where they fish. This reduction in independent fishers is how this all links together.
Even a small seafood company is not going to be interested in directly selling their product in Tahsis. It is a tiny community that is literally at the end of the road. However, maybe there are some fishing families in the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation who want to see more of their sons and daughters back out on the water in their traditional territory, selling locally and making a living from fishing. Maybe there's a young couple out there that wants to buy a boat, live in Tahsis, start a family and become fishers for their community.
Many small communities in Canada have farmers who make a living from selling at a farmers market or a roadside stand, so why is it that in Tahsis, which has almost no agricultural land but a bountiful ocean, fishers cannot make a living selling to their local community?
Tahsis is only one community that I have been able to illustrate in my very limited time here. My food security colleagues and I can tell you similar stories about Zeballos, Port Hardy, Tofino, Ucluelet, Sayward, and Alert Bay. The reduction in independent fishers has had a real and significant impact on the food security of these communities. Some communities are luckier. Cortes Island still has several fishers who sell locally, and Campbell River has a specialist seafood store at Fisherman's Wharf. However, with increased barriers to entry to fishing for independent fishers and the greying of the fleet, it is only a matter of time before the same issues spread into these communities as well.
I urge you to make changes to fisheries management on the west coast, so that independent fishers can thrive, for the health of our coastal communities and all Canadians.
Thank you.
Analisa Blake
View Analisa Blake Profile
Analisa Blake
2019-02-20 16:26
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your study of west coast fisheries. I'm here today representing Island Health. We are the health authority responsible for the island region, from Victoria in the south to Mount Waddington and Port Hardy in the north. This includes a large section of remote B.C. coast, accessible only by boat or air.
Recently, our provincial health officer issued a recommendation that B.C. adopt a “health in all policies” approach. I hope the information I am providing today will help ensure that health is factored into the design of any policy decisions made by this committee.
Island Health is a partner in the Island Food Security Hubs collective. This is a group of community agencies working with partners across the region to address food security and, ultimately, improve health. Food security is a complex systems issue. A healthy food system requires ideas and action from across sectors. It's through this cross-sector approach that the Strathcona food security hub, in 2014, identified access to seafood as a key concern for the north island. This spurred a chain of inquiry and action that has led me and my colleague Cynthia here today.
Cynthia has spoken to you regarding the incongruous challenge of the lack of access to fish in fishing communities. My colleague Helen von Buchholz will be speaking later on the broad health impacts stemming from the erosion of fishing economies on our coast.
The perspective I bring today speaks to the gravity of the impact of this policy on food security and nutrition. Food security means that healthy food is easy to access and that we all have the skills, resources, time and tools to make healthy food choices. ln a healthy food system, people who supply our food can do so in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.
We are food-insecure when we cannot reliably access the foods we need to live healthy and active lives—
Analisa Blake
View Analisa Blake Profile
Analisa Blake
2019-02-20 16:28
We're food-insecure when we can't reliably access the foods we need to live healthy, active lives. Food insecurity varies across the income gradient, and it varies geographically. Thirteen per cent of those living in the island region face food insecurity, meaning they can't always count on getting the next meal on the table.
Canada's new food guide has excellent advice for a healthy diet, and fish figures prominently in the guide. It also notes the importance of food skills, including the skills to fish. However, Canada's current fisheries policy on the west coast has inadvertently created a situation in which access to nutrient-dense seafood is highly restricted, and which is eroding the skills, traditional knowledge and infrastructure that support fishing for both indigenous and settler populations.
ln remote coastal communities, grocery stores are scarce, and fresh, healthy food on grocery store shelves is scarcer still. On the water, though, fresh, nutrient-dense seafood is abundant. However, whereas once local people could go to their local dock to purchase locally caught fish, today, due to federal fishing policy, this is no longer a reality. ln the few communities where commercial fishing is still a viable industry, locally caught fish go almost exclusively to fish processing plants and then to the wider market, bypassing entirely the local community.
Fish is fuel for the people of our coast. Seafood is rich in many essential nutrients for health: protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and vitamin A. These nutrients are known to support bone and muscle health, eye and skin health, immune function, brain development and mental health. They play a key role in disease prevention against cancer, stroke, heart disease, infection, arthritis, dementia and cognitive impairment.
Why does this matter for coastal communities? I'll give you a few examples.
For one, remote communities on the island face increased levels of child vulnerability. One in three kindergartners in B.C. starts school with vulnerabilities that inhibit development. Malnutrition in the early years can dramatically affect brain function irreversibly. This is where fish can help with the nutrients that support brain development.
Another example is that mental health trends are worsening in B.C. One in four islanders faces mental health challenges that affect their ability to cope with stress, work productively and engage with their communities. Fish can help here, too, with nutrients that support healthy brain function.
One more example is that B.C. faces a crushing burden of illness in our aging population, and many seniors in remote communities must leave their homes to receive the level of care they require for complex chronic conditions. Fish consumption can prevent or delay the onset of many of these illnesses, allowing more seniors to age in place.
Besides nutritional impacts, the experience of precarious food access, in and of itself, is highly stressful and takes a serious toll on health. Higher rates of food insecurity are linked to lower rates of self-reported health and mental health, and higher rates of obesity as well as mood and anxiety disorders. Can you imagine the feedback loops of increasingly unhealthy populations stemming from these problems? The fallout from these generates staggering costs to society and to the taxpayer.
I hope it's clear by now that any change in policy for west coast fisheries must contain measures that will remove barriers for locals who wish to access locally harvested seafood. I hope it's also clear that those involved in the commercial fishing industry must be able to generate sustainable incomes adequate to ensuring their own food security.
You might be starting to see by now that local economic development through good fisheries policy could have many health-promoting benefits, not just for fishers but for fishing communities on the whole, and that, conversely, poorly designed policy is actually harmful to community health and wellness. A comprehensive health impact assessment would add an important dimension to this inquiry and could help to further inform the challenging decisions you have ahead of you.
Thank you.
Results: 1 - 15 of 957 | Page: 1 of 64

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data