Cullen and Rice hail recommendations of Parliamentary fisheries committee as a win for independent fishers

Nathan Cullen, MP (Skeena–Bulkley Valley) and Jennifer Rice, MLA (North Coast) have welcomed recommendations put forward by the all-party Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in its study into the state of the West Coast fisheries.

The report, released May 7, called for changes to British Columbia’s commercial fisheries quota licencing to help independent fishers. Ideas put forward by the committee including allowing for the separation of married licences for sale to new fishers looking to start an owner-operated business, DFO providing financial support to independent fishers seeking to own their own licences, providing loans and mentorship to independent fishers when first entering the industry and the creation of an independent commission tasked with introducing limits on the number of quotas that can be held by one group and prioritizing the sale of licences to young or independent fishers.

Speaking after the report was made public, Cullen pointed to the clear steps presented by the committee: “I think it is clear from this report that it’s time for action on the West Coast to support independent commercial fishers so that everyone can share in the benefits from the incredible fisheries we have in BC. The committee heard evidence from dozens of witnesses about the problems with quota licencing and we now have a whole set of recommendations for this government to take on board and start implementing” stated Cullen.

Rice agreed that the committee’s work made it clear that the quota licencing system in BC is in need of an overhaul. “Current DFO policies treat fish, a Canadian common resource as a commodity. If these recommendations were implemented our resources would benefit B.C. coastal communities, fish Harvesters and First Nations. Seafood harvested in British Colombia should support local jobs and local economies not large scale corporate and non-Canadian interests” said Rice.

“Compared to Alaska and the East Coast of Canada, British Columbia is missing the boat as far economic performance of the fishery. This report provides excellent guidance on how we can develop a made-in-BC framework that puts community, social and economic benefits at the forefront” added Rice.

Cullen was also quick to acknowledge the contributions by fellow NDP MPs from BC who sit on the committee: “I am grateful for all of the work put in by my colleagues Fin Donnelly and Gord Johns, who continue to champion a healthy, sustainable and economically viable fishery on the West Coast” said Cullen.