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Coast Bastion Hotel

11 Bastion Street

Nanaimo, BC V9R 6E4

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Background on Fisheries for Communities Gathering 1.0

The first Fisheries for Communities Gathering was held in Vancouver on February 23, 2018. The Gathering brought together more than 120 people including fish harvesters and Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishing interests, from different generations and geographically diverse coastal regions. There were also First Nations leaders, mayors from coastal communities, environmental groups, fish harvester organizations from Canada and Alaska, NGOs, BC food activists, academics, and Provincial and Federal elected officials. All were there to express concern for the current state of BC commercial fisheries, to listen, and to add their voice to the need for change.

While each group came with their own experiences of the issues and had different interests, there was agreement from the entire gathering on the need for immediate fisheries policy reform to ensure that fish harvesters, First Nations, and coastal fishing communities are more fully supported, and are the primary benefactors of the resource. There was also a call on the then Minister of Fisheries to perform an independent review of BC commercial fisheries licensing policy, built on a transparent and inclusive process, to:

a) Ensure fisheries licensing policy in the Pacific region supports independent fish harvesters, First Nations, and the revival of rural fishing communities, and

b) Determine how “social, economic, and cultural” objectives are to be achieved in Pacific region fisheries.

There was agreement from attendees on the guiding principles for reform. The full proceedings report from this event can be seen here http://www.bucksuzuki.org/images/uploads/docs/FisheriesForCommunities_April19.pdf

This request was heard. The Minister did launch a West Coast licence review, which was subsequently taken over by the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO). After months of hearings and deliberations this committee made 20 recommendations to address these issues. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/FOPO/report-21/


Purpose for Fisheries for Communities Gathering 2.0

Much like the previous gathering, the Fisheries for Communities Gathering 2.0 will bring together fish harvesters as well as other individuals, communities, organizations and governments whose livelihoods, economies, food access, cultures, and wellbeing are tied to local fisheries, and who want to continue to work together to ensure fisheries support them and their communities now, and for future generations. This is timely as the newly elected Federal Government will have to decide if, and how, to act on FOPO’s recently released report and 20 recommendations on West Coast fisheries licensing policy reform. This event will provide an opportunity for participants to share thoughts, concerns, desired outcomes around these recommendations, and to show the government that action and follow through on these important issues are needed. The Gathering will also provide a space for those concerned about the health of our fisheries and fishing communities, to connect with each other, build relationships, and share concerns, ideas, and hopes for a better future.


The Issue

The issues are many and complex and there are many current and growing threats to the wellbeing of our fishing communities. Independent harvesters face numerous challenges trying to stay afloat. Among them is the increasing control of the resource from non-coastal business interests. This is the result of policies that enable speculative investors and multinational companies to purchase, own and lease our local fishing rights. As a result, the tangible and broader intangible benefits of local fisheries are being taken from the coastal communities adjacent to them. Influence over decision-making has shifted away from the people and communities connected to fisheries. Fish harvesters are losing their voice in key decisions that affect them and their ability to earn a living from fishing is being increasingly compromised.

The Opportunity:

Despite all the challenges we do have a moment of opportunity to make positive change! There has been progress since the last gathering, along with the FOPO report, this past June the Federal government passed Bill C-68 instilling socio-economic objectives in support of fishermen, coastal communities and First Nations into the Fisheries Act. The new Fisheries Act states that it will keep the benefits of fishing in the hands of independent fish harvesters and their adjacent communities. In addition, the Fisheries and Oceans Standing Committee completed a study on West Coast fisheries, and released 20 recommendations for West Coast fisheries policy reform to help ensure that the benefits from fishing flow to independent harvesters, First Nations, and coastal communities. It is not too late to change the policy foundations that continue to rob the coast of the social, economic and cultural values of adjacent fisheries. Now there is a chance for change that can sustain these values and revive or create new local fisheries, reinvigorate communities, food access and jobs, and rebuild longstanding connections to the sea.


This Gathering provides an opportunity for individuals affected by years of bad fisheries policy to combine their voices, and describe the change needed to revitalize our coast and realize all that its ocean bounty has to offer coastal communities, now and for future generations.

Participants: Registration is required BEFORE February 4. Register via Eventbrite, or by contacting info@saveourcoastalcommunity.org


Location:

Coast Bastion Hotel, 11 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 6E4, Ph: 250.753.6601

When: February 10-11th, 2020

Feb 10th 10:00– 5:00PM (8:30AM registration & continental breakfast; 12:30 lunch provided; 6:00PM catered dinner and social time)

Feb 11th 9:00AM – 4:30PM (8:30AM continental breakfast; 12:30 lunch provided)


Support: There is a limited budget for this event but we do not want costs to be a barrier to attendance. If you need financial assistance with travel expenses, please contact email below.


More Info: info@saveourcoastalcommunity.org


Ecotrust Canada and TBuck Suzuki are facilitating this meeting on behalf of those working to find a common focus and voice on the barriers to thriving, sustainable coastal fisheries and more equitable access to the wealth of the oceans.

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11 Bastion Street

Nanaimo, BC V9R 6E4

Canada

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