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For many years we have seen a sharp decline in the real benefit communities and fishermen receive from their adjacent marine resources. Yet fisheries remain an integral part of the economic, environmental, and social fabric of fishing communities. Ecotrust Canada is working in partnership with First Nations communities and fishermen to design, test and implement financing solutions that can reverse this trend and help meet local objectives.

 

The Challenge

Communities are facing many challenges in their fisheries: no security of access; deteriorating infrastructure and boats; rapidly increasing purchase costs for new entrants; unstable fish populations; variable market prices; rising operating costs; competition for ocean space and resource use; limited to no succession; loss of fisherman knowledge; and limited or no access to capital.

Limited access to capital has been a serious barrier for fishermen struggling to stay on the water, and has hindered the ability of communities to seed their vision for a viable and dynamic local fisheries economy.

This limited capital access has traditionally been due to:

  • The high or variable risk nature of industry
  • A lack of credit history and/or low financial expertise on the part of fishermen
  • Minimal capacity to build and implement proposals for financing
  • A Low understanding of the fishing industry by financiers

 

The Opportunity

Despite these challenges, fisheries remain an integral part of coastal communities. If well managed by local leadership, fisheries can provide measurable improvements in community health and resilience. Furthermore, resident small boat fleets are essential to realizing this opportunity and the long-term sustainability of ocean resources. We know that creative and responsible approaches to financing driven by local objectives can lower the costs of going fishing, improve the viability of the small boat fleet and make it easier for younger generations to pursue careers in the industry. This is worth investing in for many reasons:

  • Commercial fishing is vital to the health, economies, and culture of coastal BC communities
  • Fishing is one of BC’s most environmentally sustainable and renewable resource-based industries
  • There is a high demand for seafood
  • Fishing supports regional food security

 

Solution in Action: A Revolving Loan Fund for Fishermen

We have designed a revolving loan fund with a partner First Nation that will give fishermen access to low-cost loans for in-season start-up costs.

These loans would support fishermen with no current access to financing and give greater agency to those who are traditionally reliant on a company for financing. For example, with this independent financing fishermen would have greater freedom to sell to who they want, increase their earnings, and pursue new or alternative value-added opportunities.

Many fishermen struggle with costs at the beginning of the season: licence fees, ice, vessel repairs, gear upgrades, or even fuel. They have little choice but to fish for large companies who provide upfront loans in exchange for guaranteed sales agreements that offer fishermen a very low price for their catch. This puts the fishermen in the position of being “price takers”. This lost revenue opportunity not only hurts the livelihood of fishermen, but also drains potential income and employment from local communities: for every $1 of revenue generated by a small boat fisherman, roughly $0.80 will remain in the region through wages and spending on gear, food, goods, and services.

For every dollar earned by small boat fishermen, 80 cents stays in the region as spending on wages, gear, food, goods, and services.

Although banks and other investors have historically avoided lending to fishermen due to the uncertainty of the industry and low repayment rates, we are optimistic that a community-based approach to lending can lead to better outcomes.

Each fund goes through a rigorous community design process so community leaders, fishermen, and community members all have a say in structuring the loan fund for success. This community-based approach improves the chance that the repayment scheme will actually work for fishermen and builds the foundation for a structure that enables the fund to grow over time.

 

Our Approach / Demonstrating Impact

We work in collaboration with our community and industry partners, taking our lead from the challenges they identify and the objectives they provide us. Our partners, like us, recognize and want the economic, social, and cultural benefits that healthy local fisheries can provide, and are committed to helping the viability of small boat fishermen.

For our first pilot fund, this meant getting creative about how loans could be disbursed and collected. We interviewed community members, fishermen, local businesses, fishing industry experts, and the local government to design a model that gives fishermen the access to capital they need, under conditions acceptable to them and the community, including:

  • Loan pricing and cycle time adapted to fishing seasons
  • Non-traditional criteria for borrowing and repayment
  • A straightforward collection process
  • A transparent and fair eligibility process

While the model will not be identical for every community, we believe a partnership-based approach to loan fund design and lending has a much higher likelihood of success and can give better social and financial returns than conventional lending from institutions.

The revolving loan fund cycle.

 

Expanding Our Reach

Ecotrust Canada can help your community implement a revolving loan fund by:

  • Host an information workshop to understand your priorities and objectives and assess whether or not a revolving loan fund would meet your needs
  • Facilitate a community-led design process to decide on a focus area and fund structure
  • Find funding for the loan design and loan fund, drawing on unrestricted funds from philanthropic sources as well other types of mission based funds
  • Work with assigned individuals and community champions (e.g. band staff) to establish loan administration, including application and assessment tools, risk management policies, and lending procedures – and then check back to make sure they meet the community priorities and objectives
  • Hire, train, and support a local fund manager to oversee the fund and provide financial literacy training for loan recipients
  • Model the direct and indirect economic impacts of the loan fund in your community – how is it actually making a difference?
  • Evaluate the fund on an ongoing basis and recommend changes to the structure as necessary

 

Ecotrust Canada ‘s background in social lending

Our objective is to design and build alternative economic models that provide greater benefits to people in place. As one part of our portfolio of work and tools, we owned and operated a $4 million revolving loan fund between 1999 and 2010. Our direct experience with the operation of a loan fund – together with our deep knowledge of the fishing industry, the region, the need as described by our community partners and the role of social finance to stimulate change – has inspired us to use this expertise to support small revolving loan funds in coastal communities.

In remote places where fishing has historically been a mainstay economic generator, this phenomenon has taken an unanticipated toll – the loss of shorefront fisheries services like ice machines and landing facilities, as well as increasingly limited access to the sea.

In the small town of Tofino, the last piece of working waterfront – a less than 2,000 sq ft fish processing facility – was under siege from this condominium conundrum. Ecotrust Canada, together with sixteen local residents, joined forces to purchase the plant and continue operations as Trilogy Fish. The business was refocused to support local fishermen and local markets as a top priority, and continues to produce some of the finest smoked salmon in the country to this day.

Over 10 years, the $4 million Coastal Loan Fund (CLF) made 87 mission-related loans, totaling $10.7 million dollars in lending activity. By classic metric measurement standards, the Fund created 696 full time equivalent jobs and leveraged over $40 million in additional loan capital. Operations were considered both efficient and effective, with default rates and loan losses at the lower end of the range for comparable institutions in Canada.

As part of a wider organizational review in 2009, the Board of Ecotrust Canada made the difficult decision to wind up its lending activity and consider alternate ways to meet its objective to support the design and development of a triple-E economy in BC.

Their decision was premised on three factors:(1) limited internal resources to underwrite the expansion deemed necessary to bring the Fund to scale; (2) the ongoing lack of financial instruments in the market to help mitigate risk; and (3) mission drift premised on the need to cover operating costs and remain financially viable. The Board and management agreed that, without significant growth, the loan program was in danger of becoming a financial burden on the charity and losing its mission advantage.

This abstract discusses some of the main lessons learned from 10 years of operating the loan program, and will be part of a longer paper examining case studies in order to translate lessons into policy tools. These reports, together with our wide range of experience in this field, are intended to support and advance discussions in Canada about the need for a comprehensive social finance program that is well designed, adequately supported by governments and that engages national and regional financial institutions as well as private capital sources to support social change.

Lessons Learned

1. Clarify mission impact expectations before creating financing vehicles

Ecotrust Canada established its coastal loan fund (CLF) to invest in green businesses on the coast. The charity had two objectives: (1) to stimulate triple-bottom-line business development; and (2) to achieve a conservation economy in BC. These objectives proved too broad and too ambitious for the Fund’s size, scope and type.

Too broad: The CLF was structured and endowed to provide financing through loans to small, remote, medium-risk businesses. In other words, the Fund occupied only a very narrow and  specialized niche in the overall spectrum of social finance and in the field of community economic development. Although the organization’s mission objective, ’to build a conservation economy’, is very broad, its mission-fund was not structured to address all aspects of achieving it. Complementary initiatives, including industry sector restructuring, demonstration projects, institutional development and capacity building, could not access the CLF even though many needed social finance to succeed and offered sizeable investment opportunity. The Fund was also not structured to address higher risk activities in the community development field such as start-up financing, research/innovation, or market development. To draw social finance into the full suite of needs and opportunities associated with achieving its mission, a parallel strategy to engage venture capital, commercial banks and government was required. While the CLF did develop some of these financing partnerships, and leveraged capital much in excess of its own resources, the Fund’s activity remained largely limited to co-financing for its target audience rather than building support across the full spectrum of needs associated with mission success.

Too ambitious: Transformative change is a slow, uneven and unpredictable process, often fraught with measurement and attribution challenges. In the context of transformation objectives, relatively conventional activity, in a niche market, over a 10-year time horizon, was simultaneously ambitious and limiting. Clearly articulated shorter term objectives, and designing a metrics system specifically for the Fund, would have increased the likelihood of understanding the true impact of this undertaking.

 

2. Understand profitability scenarios & design for profitability expectations

When the CLF was established, Ecotrust Canada expected ‘net positive returns from fees and interest which it would redirect into operating revenue for the charity’. The reverse held true — Ecotrust Canada consistently subsidized the Fund’s operations, with both staffing and financial support.

Profits: On the basis of earned income alone, no documented mission fund of comparable size in Canada or in the US has come close to fully recovering its operating costs, including the cost of capital. All other funds of like size and type have benefited from government subsidized capital and/or operating subsidies — neither of which was available to the CLF. Studies carried out by the Aboriginal Financial Institution network suggest that the real cost of capital (the interest rate required for a loan fund to break even), is in the order of 20 to 25%. The CFL was charging seven to 9% interest on its loans.

Profitability expectations: Establishing metrics that quantified progress towards mission objectives (costeffectiveness), rather than simply measuring costs, would have aided in understanding the Fund’s impact. Profitability expectations were also found to create mission-drift pressure. There is a built-in trade off between profitability and mission risk. Pressure to reduce costs created an incentive to increase the number of large, low cost, low risk, soft mission loans at the expense of the small, costly and riskier hard mission loans. This dynamic has been observed in other similar mission-funds and remains one of the critical challenges in the micro-credit world.

 

3. Analyze the fund size required to achieve mission impact and sustainability

For every Fund there is a sweet-spot where the capital under management enables it to balance risk across the portfolio and cover operating costs. Ecotrust Canada estimated that, given its mission risk, a $20 million fund operating in an extended geography was needed to reach break-even.

Raising this level of capital into the CLF proved impossible due to the lack of support instruments. In other jurisdictions, instruments such as investment tax credits, or a contributed capital base with an interest rate buy-down for additional capital (available to ACCs in Canada), are known to encourage investment into funds of this size and type. These instruments were not available during the CLF’s tenure.

The CLF did benefit, for about 45% of its loan portfolio over five years, from a federal government loan loss reserve through Western Economic Diversification. This absorbed part of the deficiency balance for loans that did not complete. The program considerably enhanced the capacity to respond to the need for higher risk mission loans and, while available, satisfied private investors that their capital was shielded from risk.When the federal program was cancelled, second round expansion financing was notably impacted.

 

4. Consider the vehicle used to operate a Mission-Fund

Current Canadian laws governing charities severely restrict their ability to operate a mission-related loan fund.

In order to operate its lending program on a profitable basis, Ecotrust Canada was required to incorporate a wholly-owned subsidiary corporation. This requirement substantially increased both the complexity and the cost of fund governance and fund management, and diluted the relationship between the loan portfolio and the mission activity of the charity. Ultimately, this dual structure resulted in a loss of synergy between the ‘development’ and the ‘credit’ sides of the organization.

Furthermore, because charitable funds could not be transferred to the lending subsidiary without market return expectations, the subsidiary was left with a zero net worth balance sheet that radically inhibited its ability to attract investors and expand to a break-even position.

 

5. Plan for the costs of technical support, onsite development, and research

Mission lending requires more time and money than conventional lending.

Matching the right kind of social finance instrument to each initiative is key. With limited instruments available, Ecotrust Canada’s loan fund was frequently called upon to fulfil functions not well suited to its size and scope, including R&D ventures and start-ups.

The organization addressed some of these needs by developing, within the charity, in-house technical and sectoral expertise; and it developed external partnerships to address others. Over time, this improved some business proposals to the point that they were able to access conventional financing.

 

6. Reduce risk and enhance mission impact through co-investment

It is clear that transitioning to more conventional forms of capital is enhanced by early stage investment and/or by partnered investment structured to mitigate risk.

The option of ‘stacking’ several types of financial support increases the likelihood that more conventional financing will find a deal attractive because risk has been mitigated. Ecotrust Canada has several examples where they used their own loan fund in this way, holding a less well secured position in a multi-party deal; or lending pari passu (equally) with other bankers; or by organizing grants to cover soft costs which can then be recognized as equity in a larger loan agreement. The CLF also frequently provided early stage financing coupled with technical support for two to three years and then transitioned clients to conventional financing once the business was more established.

 

7. Integrate cultures of community development, sector expertise, communications and finance

The model of internally integrating the expertise and approach of community development practitioners, industry sector experts and bankers may be Ecotrust Canada’s single biggest innovative contribution in the field of social finance.

Ecotrust Canada has often ’married’ its programming and its lending to create and/or support business endeavours to the stage where they can attract new financing. These living examples have helped clarify to the social sector the true value of a combined charity/lending model—where philanthropic investment is used to support innovation and lending is used to support business launch.

Combining the tools of planning, on-site technical support, industry sector expertise, direct business lending and partnerships with commercial sources of finance, has defined Ecotrust Canada’s approach and created some excellent examples of what is possible. This said, knowledge of social finance failed, over time, to permeate equally across all parts of the organization and became increasingly segregated inside the CLF staff.

In order to achieve deep integration across the organization, from programming through to lending, ongoing financial literacy training and selective hiring must remain a priority.

 

Conclusion

The challenge of accessing capital for social good is as much centered on the incapacity of innovators and social entrepreneurs to communicate their needs and opportunities in a language that investors can understand, as it is the limitations of capital, including social capital, to understand and gauge the merits of innovation and the value of risk. Ecotrust Canada is well positioned to assist entrepreneurs to structure projects in a capital-friendly way, and to assist social capital providers that lack sectoral expertise, local knowledge and a ‘foot on the ground’ to assess opportunities worthy of investment. In the world of CLF-type funds, there is an urgent need to build the right incentives, and to determine the level of support required given mission risk, mission impact and desired outcomes.

Closely tied to this is the question of defining mission risk and impact metrics, developing benchmark measures of operating efficiency and identifying the most efficient support instruments. Numbers need to be supplemented with narrative, with longitudinal results tracking, and with detailed impact analysis; and success stories must be developed to maintain investor interest and maximize the impact of demonstration.

The First Nations Regeneration Fund financed Aboriginal equity stakes in clean energy projects, particularly those focusing on run-of-river hydro. It was a partnership between the Tale’awtxw Aboriginal Capital Corporation (TACC) and Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP), initially managed by Ecotrust Canada Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary corporation of Ecotrust Canada.

The goals of the Regeneration Fund were to:

  • Support First Nation participation in projects that are financially attractive, socially beneficial, and low impact ecologically.
  • Offer direct access to the wealth created by BC’s clean energy sector
  • Assist First Nations to develop sizeable economic revenue streams for community development.

Financing was made available from the First Nation Regeneration Fund as debt to the First Nation. The First Nation repaid its loan through dividends and royalties from the renewable power project and possibly from other sources. Once the loan was repaid, the dividends and royalties became long-term discretionary income that could be used by First Nations for economic or social development.

The First Nation Regeneration Fund supported projects that minimized environmental impacts and maximized socio-economic benefits to local First Nations. These projects included Atlin Xeitl Hydro, owned and operated by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Kwoiek Hydro with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, and Sakwi Creek Power with the Sts’ailes.

For more information, please visit the First Nation Regeneration Fund website.

The Field Study Centre hosts students and researchers from around the world to study rainforest ecology and related fields in the Clayoquot UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The Centre is set on a forested ridge overlooking Cougar Annie’s Garden and backs onto Rae Lake.

“Too many fishermen chasing too few fish.” This mantra drove fisheries reforms in the 1990s. Ottawa financed buy-back schemes and imposed new individual quota systems to downsize BC’s commercial fishing fleet. While these policies drastically cut the number of fishing vessels—and disproportionately affected rural and Aboriginal fishermen—they also created problems of their own. This “Catch-22” was the finding of a groundbreaking 2004 report by Ecotrust Canada.

While capitalization in vessels dropped by more than fifty percent in the 1990s, the money invested in licences and quota soared. The price of halibut quota climbed from $9 per pound in 1991 to $27 in 2004. Sablefish prices jumped from $5 to $25 in the same period. Rural and Aboriginal fishermen, who often lack sufficient home equity and capital, simply could not afford to pay these inflated prices. Quota lease rates became exorbitant too. In the halibut fishery, lease rates are as high as seventy percent of the landed value, leaving little money to pay crewmen and vessel expenses.

These financial inequities and mounting costs threaten the survival of many small-boat fishermen. “The price of everything has gone up,” says Dave McLellan, a hook-and-line fisherman. “It costs about $2,500 to untie the boat from the dock and make a trip for dogfish… With food, fuel, bait, monitoring, and hiring deckhands, it is a pretty expensive fishery.”

New business models are needed to help fishermen overcome financial barriers while That’s where quota and licence banks come in.

The business model is called a “bank” because it’s ultimately about setting up a legal entity to securely hold licences and quota. Fishermen themselves own the bank in partnership with outside investors or community groups. Member fishermen lease quota and licences from the bank as their individual needs require. By pooling capital and operating according to principals of fairness and sustainability, the bank provides fishermen with access to licences and quota that they couldn’t otherwise obtain.“We designed the licence bank model to achieve two goals,” says Tasha Sutcliffe, Ecotrust Canada’s Fisheries Program Manager. “First, it would help secure access to fisheries resources for local fishermen and improve their financial performance. Second, it would help to create more local, sustainable fisheries. Small-boat fishermen operate closer to home, deliver their products closer to home, and provide more benefits to rural communities.”

The new model was first introduced to help a group of small-boat fishermen respond to huge changes in BC’s groundfish fisheries in 2006.

New Ground Rules

Groundfish refers to a variety of fish including rockfish, flatfish and cod species caught in bottom trawls and longlines in BC. Trawlers catch many species while longliners are licensed to target specific ones: sablefish, halibut, dogfish, lingcod and rockfish. In the past, fishermen would simply discard any fish caught that wasn’t their targeted species. So sablefish fishermen discarded halibut, halibut fishermen discarded dogfish, and so on.

Discarding “bycatch” is incredibly wasteful, especially since many fish are dead by the time they reach the surface. The government had only rough estimates of bycatch, and these numbers weren’t included in the total allowable catch for each species. By the late 1990s, some in-shore rockfish stocks were severely depleted, resulting in catch reductions. Rockfish conservation areas were imposed to act as refugia to rebuild stocks. Fishermen faced the bleak possibility of large-scale closures to protect a few dwindling rockfish species.

Fishermen responded by developing a plan for the “integration” of all commercial groundfish fleets. That means common rules to keep all fishermen within strict catch limits for each species. Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) had already been introduced for trawl, halibut and sablefish fleets, and were expanded into the lingcod, dogfish and rockfish fisheries. Each fleet also had to have 100-percent onboard monitoring through observers or video cameras.

Under the new rules, if a halibut fisherman catches a yellow-eye rockfish, he cannot discard the fish. In fact, he must lease or purchase quota that allows him to keep this non-targeted catch. As a result, every rockfish caught is accounted for and bycatch has been severely reduced. That’s a win for conservation.

Yet under these strict conservation rules, small-boat fishermen faced new monitoring costs and the prospect of buying or leasing quota, at inflated prices, to keep non-target species. Without these quotas, a fishing boat can’t even untie from the dock let alone bait a hook.

A Cooperative Approach

Individual transferable quotas are a marketbased system allowing fishermen and even non-fishermen to buy, sell, trade and lease fishing quotas, which are either a defined amount or a percentage share of the total catch. It’s a laissez-faire approach akin to a stock market. Some even consider quotas a form of resource privatization. With quotas, fishermen no longer compete in derby-style fisheries, but rather compete with each other to buy the licences and quota needed to go fishing. Fishermen can even buy out each other, thereby consolidating fleets into fewer vessels. ITQs can have several adverse effects, including undue corporation concentration and absentee owership of the fisheries resource.

Recognizing these problems, seven smallboat fishermen, who use hooks and lines to catch spiny dogfish, partnered with Ecotrust Canada to pool the risks and share the benefits of buying quota and licences through a collectively owned bank. Together, they formed the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Conservation Company and invested in a rockfish (ZN) and halibut (L) licence and quota. They account for 60 percent of dogfish caught on longlines each year in BC.

“It is a really good concept,” says Dave McLellan, a dogfish fisherman and member of the licence bank. “It has helped me a lot already. I have been in a bind where I have not been able to find the quota, and if you can’t find the quota, you are tied to the dock. The licence bank had the fish (quota) in it and I could go out fishing again.”

Banking on each other

How does the licence bank work? The fishermen, Ecotrust Canada and Blue Mosaic, a Ucluelet-based consultancy run by one of the member fishermen, came together around two fundamental objectives: to improve conservation and to increase the viability of the small-boat fleet, especially rual fishermen.

The partners evaluated several incorporation models—cooperatives, limited liability companies, nonprofits—but ultimately decided to set up a corporation with shareholders.

This structure allowed both flexibility and the possibility to issue dividends from the bank to investors and fishermen. Each fisherman brought a small amount of capital and personal financial guarantees into the bank, which leveraged debt financing from Ecotrust Canada’s capital corporation. The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation in San Francisco also provided a start-up grant. Blue Mosaic brought administrative capacity to manage the bank’s system of quota leasing and trading.

The bank’s shareholder agreement outlines each fisherman’s obligations to the bank, to each other and to the resource. The shareholders agreed to common rules for operating the bank, including “fair trade prices” for quota leasing and a “conservation covenant.” This code of conduct prescribes responsible fishing practices that minimize habitat damage (especially to corals and sponges), discarding small fish and other negative impacts.

The covenant is enforced first through peer pressure, but ultimately through threat of financial sanctions. Ecotrust Canada can recall its loan if member fishermen violate the conservation covenant. The shareholder agreement also allows the bank to apply briefing financial penalties to members who “hoard quota beyond the reasonable expectation of need.”

In this way, the bank also provides benefits to non-fishermen: environmental groups wanting to provide incentives for conservation, or municipalities and First Nations wanting to secure long-term access to adjacent fishing grounds for local fishermen.

“Traditionally, the small-boat fleet— particularly those of us who live in small
communities—have less access to capital than urban-based fishermen and corporations,” says Dan Edwards, a member fisherman and partner in Blue Mosaic. “One of Ecotrust Canada’s objectives is to stabilize employment in rural communities. What the licence bank does is it starts to reverse the trend of having fishing licences and quota owned by corporations or concentrated in urban areas. It allows rural fishermen to survive in the fishery.”

“Cooperatively working together,” Edwards adds, “can bring you more benefits than just working individually.”

 

Learn more about licence banks with our Start-up Guide to Fisheries Licence Banks.

Fisheries reform has often had unintended or ill-considered consequences: downsizing schemes, for example, have disproportionately affected rural and Aboriginal fishermen, and worsened over-capitalization in licences and quota. If there is to be a sustainable fishery in the future, new ways for fishermen to access licences and quota need to be created to ensure benefits from fisheries flow back to active fishermen and their communities.

This start-up guide or toolkit describes a way of organizing a fisheries licence bank. A licence bank is a cooperative ownership structure that allows fishermen or communities to pool licences and quota together to accrue greater benefits than they would alone. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

A licence bank works by holding licences and/or quota that is then leased back to members, at reduced or “fair trade” rates, improving the economic viability and securing access for members. This model can achieve multiple socioeconomic goals including improved fisheries management as well as the promotion of sustainable fishing practices. The model is useful for:

  • Providing options to fishermen with little access to traditional forms of capital
  • Pooling fishermen to improve cooperation and operating efficiencies
  • Maintaining small boat enterprises through combining a variety of licences/quota to meet access needs
  • Spreading risk and benefits in high risk
  • fisheries investments
  • Connecting fishing enterprises to fishing dependent communities
  • Supporting the development of sustainable fisheries
  • Providing affordable access to future generations of fishermen

Licence banks fundamentally depend upon fishermen as integral partners. A licence bank without fishermen is just an investment company; a licence without someone to fish it is just a piece of paper. A licence bank can consist of fishermen partnering with outside investors or the fishermen themselves can be the majority shareholders. What is vital for fishermen is that they be key decision makers, that they share in the success of the licence bank, and that they commit to a code of conduct established by all partners within the licence bank.

This start-up guide outlines seven key steps on how to develop a licence bank including examples drawn the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Conservation Company (PCFCC), a licence bank founded by a group of fishermen and Ecotrust Canada. Detailed information is provided on:

  • who might benefit from a licence bank and how to organize potential partners
  • structure, principles, purpose, and goals
  • accessing capital and developing business plans
  • shareholder agreement, operational procedures, and evaluation frameworks
  • getting and staying operational

The toolkit is designed for those fishermen who want new business models that will improve their bottom line and the long-term health of their fishery, and those organizations that want to help fishermen succeed, recognizing the interconnection between healthy economies, healthy communities and a healthy environment.