Commercial fishing in BC is highly regulated, with dozens of different licence types, each with their own rules and gear requirements. As each fishery becomes more and more specialized, those participating in commercial fishing are increasingly vulnerable to environmental or economic changes. A recent study [1] confirms that by diversifying the types of fisheries they pursue, harvesters can substantially reduce the variability of their fishing income.

Ecotrust Canada’s Fisheries Diversification Model is a tool designed to help small fishing groups and communities explore fisheries data and plan more invest in more resilient fisheries.

As part of our research for the Fisheries Diversification Model, we looked at commercial licence reports from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to find out how boats currently diversify their fisheries across different licences. By combining the reports and analyzing the results, we produced a visualization that allows the user to quickly identify trends in the data.

The photo above shows a portion of the licence stacking matrix. You can explore the interactive version here.

Some combinations of fisheries are logical and were expected. Sablefish and Halibut, for example, are both groundfish that can be caught with similar gear, so it was no surprise that 70% of boats with Sablefish licences also hold Halibut licences, as shown in the screen capture above. Other licence combinations were a little less intuitive: nearly one third of all Groundfish Trawl licences were paired with Herring Roe by Seine licences, despite the fact that the two fisheries target entirely different species in different areas with different gear.

We are strongly committed to promoting responsible fishing and building a resilient, sustainable seafood sector in BC. We know that communities looking to develop their fisheries investments face a tangled web of regulatory requirements and a growing cost of access. By drawing on our strengths in data analysis and interpretation, we hope to make these barriers to entry a little easier for communities to cross.


 [1] Kasperski, Stephen & Holland, Daniel S. 2013 Feb 5. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. Volume 110 # 6, pages 2076-2081. Abstract