Adjacency, fleet separation dominate fish meeting in Ottawa

OTTAWA – North Coast voices were strong and passionate at a parliamentary fisheries committee meeting in Ottawa this afternoon as industry representatives spoke of the urgent need for legislative changes that would see resource benefits and jobs returned to communities.

“We’ve heard some compelling testimony, things are going very well,” said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, who called for the study alongside NDP fisheries critic and committee member Fin Donnelly (Port Moody—Coquitlam). 

“It’s important for the committee to hear directly from folks who live the economic devastation that is occurring because BC fish are permitted to be processed in Asia and North Coast licenses sold off to outside corporations.”

Cullen said discussion of adjacency and owner operator licenses dominated today’s proceedings.  United Fishermen and Allied Workers (UFAWU), the union that represents shore workers on the North Coast, the City of Prince Rupert and several environmental and community groups are asking the committee to consider legislative changes that would require fish to be processed where it is caught, restrict processing companies from owning licenses and quota, and require that commercial fishing licenses be used only by owners.

Such provisions, in place on the East Coast, help keep fishing jobs in local communities.

Proceedings will continue on Thursday, when the House of Common’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is expected to hear teleconference presentations from Prince Rupert’s Des Nobles, Northern Director of the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, and Jim McIsaac of Haida Gwaii, who is Executive Director of the Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society.

UFAWU northern representative Joy Thorkelson is attending the meetings in person.

At the conclusion of hearings, the committee may elect to send a report to the government.  If that does not occur, individual parties can send their own statements to the fisheries minister based on testimony.