PICFI, AFS, the open market – there are a lot of options available to First Nations looking to invest in commercial fisheries. Yet few resources exist to guide communities in differentiating these opportunities and building a path toward robust sources of local income and employment. Seeking to address this gap, Ecotrust Canada has created a comprehensive fisheries planning program for BC’s coastal communities.
The program is anchored in community engagement. Communities invite us to facilitate town hall meetings between all local stakeholders. Fisheries managers and fishermen alike tell us what they want for the future of their fishery. What sort of industry do they envision? What licences should the Community Fisheries Enterprise pursue? How can the community best support its fishermen?
We then turn to our Fisheries Diversification Model. In the spirit of information democracy, the model makes commercial fisheries data – normally hard to find – accessible to the people who need it most. We have collected more than 100,000 data points on BC’s current and historical commercial fisheries from DFO, industry and academic publications, and interviews with fishermen. The model draws from this database to give communities an accurate, in-depth look at the economics of BC’s small-boat fleet.
Equipped with community insight, stakeholder direction, and cold hard data, we assess the community’s specific needs to determine the best course of action, keeping in mind:
- Local needs and resources
- Cultural appropriateness
- Environmental sustainability
- Economic sustainability
Our final product intertwines cultural knowledge and industry statistics to present a vision of a robust community fishing fleet – and a realistic path toward that goal.