The Gathering provided many informative presentations and fruitful discussions among attendees, which are captured in the report, and from which the following outcomes were achieved:
Consensus on the need for Pacific region fisheries policy reform
There was a unified recognition that the current policy is not working to sustain fisheries and fishing communities for current and future generations, and policy reform is urgently needed.
Consensus on the request to be made to the federal Minister for a policy review
The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, needs to perform an independent review of BC commercial fisheries licensing policy, built on a fully transparent and truly inclusive process, to:
- Ensure fisheries licensing policy in the Pacific region supports independent fish harvesters, First Nations, and the revival of rural fishing communities, and
- Determine how “social, economic, and cultural” objectives are to be achieved in Pacific region fisheries.
There was also agreement in the room that the law, policy and regulations need to ensure that ecological integrity is restored and maintained.
Agreement on the need for guiding principles for policy reform
- Ensure social, cultural, economic and ecological wellbeing for fish harvesters, First Nations, and rural coastal communities
- Establish local, decentralized, and inclusive governance and fisheries management, and more local, transparent ownership of fisheries access
- Protect the independence of active fishermen
- Rebuild and protect fish stocks for current and future generations
- Prioritize First Nations reconciliation
- Quantify – tell the “truth” – of the real cost of the privatization of fisheries
- Build a healthy fishing industry that can support the next generation of harvesters – particularly youth – and enable older fish harvesters to retire, with dignity
- Provide fairness for impacted parties in any licensing transition
These principles can also be seen as the foundation for the vision for BC fisheries, as they reflect the outcomes that participants want to see from policy reform, not just the guiding themes for the reform process.
Attendees also called for official recognition of the negative impacts that have arisen from the current policy, an immediate stop to current policy practices related to license and quota sales to non-fishing entities, and, the need for urgency – a review should be done within 6 months.