Photo credit: Michelle Williams
In 2004, Taku Wild, a Tlingit-owned fish company, cut out the middleman from its operations on the Taku River in northern BC. The result? The next year Taku Wild increased the amount of fish landed from 28,000 pounds to 200,000 pounds, or most of the commercially caught fish on the lower Taku River.
Fishing on the Taku River is done in small open boats with limited capacity for storing the catch, so the fish must be unloaded at a landing station to be weighed and packed in ice. In 2004, Taku Wild opened its own landing station in competition with what had previously been the only landing station on the river. At the end of the fishing season the Taku Wild station had become the sole station on the river and is still operating successfully.
Taku Wild is an important part of the Taku River Tlingit's salmon conservation and enhancement program, which has been in place since the early 1980s. Landing stations play an important part in monitoring the status of the fish runs, and running the landing station has allowed Taku River Tlingit to collaborate more closely with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to monitor the status of the salmon runs.
Operating the landing station has also benefited independent fishermen on the river. “It allows us to work with our own Tlingit fishermen and others to operate the landing station at hours that are most convenient to them,” says Nicole Francoeur, supervisor of the Taku River Landing Station. Fishermen also know they are getting the best price for their catch.
By taking these bold entrepreneurial steps, Taku Wild has increased the Taku River Tlingit's role not just in harvesting, but also in landing and selling the catch. The company now plays a major role in establishing a strong and sustainable economy in the Taku River Tlingit's traditional territories.
Ecotrust Canada Capital provided a working capital loan to Taku Wild to improve the landing station.