Ecotrust Canada recognizes the importance of building skills at the local level so that people-in-place can participate more readily in economic and stewardship opportunities. To this end, members of Ecotrust Canada’s fisheries team traveled to Alert Bay in February to offer a three day Dungeness crab biological sampling training course—designed to supplement the ten day fisheries observer training course run with the ‘Namgis Nation last spring.
Seven observers were trained to collect biological data as part of the monitoring requirements for the Area G Dungeness crab fishery. The data include the sex, size and shell condition of the crab being caught – either by commercial fishermen or in standardized traps set in fixed locations by the observers. Jason Dunham, an invertebrate biologist from the Science Branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), helped with some of the training, explaining to the students the importance of the work they are doing and how it contributes to the field of marine research.
Along with three days of in-class training, Ecotrust Canada staff and observers-in-training did several days of gear work and conducted the first fisheries dependent and fisheries independent sampling trips.
Building this kind of capacity in local communities and with First Nations so they can provide the monitoring required by local Area fisheries helps open up communication between harvesters, managers and scientists by putting a local face on the work. It also means that more of the money spent by harvesters on monitoring stays in their home communities.