FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday May 1st, 2018
Ken Hardie, MP Moves to Study Owner Operator Fleets
Surrey, BC – As a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, Fleetwood – Port Kells Member of Parliament Ken Hardie has submitted a motion to have the Committee study the regulation of West Coast fisheries. If the motion passes, the Committee will study the ownership of fishing licenses and quotas to evaluate the impact of the current regime on the management of the fisheries as well as the distribution of economic and social/community benefits.
British Columbia’s fisheries management system is markedly different than the one in place on Canada’s East Coast, where regulations require the owner of a fishing license and quota to be actively involved in fishing. In BC, many fishers work for or lease quotas from owners who have purchased fishing rights as investments but who may never have been on the water. These owners are often referred to as ‘slipper skippers’.
This motion was inspired by testimony from young, independent BC fishers who appeared before the Committee in response to Bill C-68, which amends the Fisheries Act. These witnesses cited figures showing the average annual income from fishing on the West Coast lags $10,000 to almost $20,000 behind earnings in Atlantic Canada and Alaska. They attributed this gap to the high ‘rents’ they have to pay to fishing rights-holders and to declining competition between suppliers and fish processors.
The testimony from the Committee’s panel on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, can be found in the links below. All testimony can be found on the FOPO website, which has been included below as well. As you will find in the testimony, even young independent fishers who advocate for a change in the fisheries regime do so in a measured way, calling for any transition to be principled and responsible.
“I’m concerned that we’ve lost sight of the cultural, social and community-building aspect of BC’s fishing industry, and in doing so, we’ve made family life in BC’s coastal communities more precarious. While we must manage fisheries to preserve stocks and maintain sustainable harvests, the importance of this industry to BC goes far beyond the economics,” Hardie says.
The management of West Coast fisheries is a complex system, one in which there are many stakeholders and a long history. The motion will compel the Committee to take the time to listen from all sides in this issue, and to hear from all of those parties effected.
Ken Hardie MP