|North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raised
issues related to the Pacific fishery
on Tuesday at the Legislature
Speaking in the morning session, Ms. Rice called attention to how fishing communities continue to struggle in British Columbia, and how fishermen are treated like second class citizens, calling for protection for Independent fish harvesters to rebuild the backbone of the rural middle class along the BC coast.
Noting that tens of millions of dollars of licences and quota access has been snapped up by corporate interests, she pointed to speculators who are buying up fishing access, with a result that they are taking income directly out of the pockets of those that live in coastal communities.
To address those concerns, the North Coast MLA called for policies to be put in place to ensure that fishing licences and the benefits that they provide are for local fishermen and local communities. calling attention to policies in place in Atlantic Canada and in Alaska.
In Atlantic Canada, the economic capacity and the strength of its rural middle class would not exist without the owner-operator and fleet separation policies enforced in all five Atlantic provinces. These policies are not only pillars of the fishing economy; they also support the social and cultural fabric of rural coastal communities in Atlantic Canada.
Similar policies are in place in Alaska, where multiple processors compete for fish by providing good prices, multiple fleet services and processing jobs in rural coastal communities. In fact, Alaskan fisheries are managed to ensure that their fish harvesters and fishing communities are the primary benefactors of their adjacent resource.
To reinforce her theme, Ms. Rice then turned to how she views the industry in British Columbia, calling for the same kind of protections in BC, as those found in Eastern Canada and Alaska.
We need similar policies of adjacency in British Columbia. In B.C., a single processor controls multiple fisheries from production through to export. Independent fishermen become price-takers, and the social and cultural fabric of our coastal communities is eroded. The economic viability of the next generation of fishermen and our coastal communities depends on improving these policies.
The full transcript of her comments can be found from the Tuesday morning Hansard record from the Legislature starting just before the 10:30 AM mark, the video segment of her comments can be found below.
The theme of adjacency has been a key element for the UFAWU-Unifor membership on the North Coast in recent years, gaining a significant amount of attention locally with the recent end to the canning lines at the Canadian Fish plant on the city's east side.
Some of the background on that concept from 2016 can be found below.
October 5 -- UFAWU delivers call for Provincial support on adjacency concepts for North Coast Fishery
June 23 -- Committee Transcripts highlight gulf between Union and Canadian Fish Company on North Coast fisheries issues
June 16 -- City Council to invite Fisheries Minister to Prince Rupert to discuss fisheries issues
June 7 -- UFAWU-Unifor take fishery issues to Ottawa
January 19 -- City Council resolution makes for part of UFAWU letters to Ottawa
More notes on the North Coast fishery can be found here
For more background on Ms. Rice's work at the Legislature see our archive page here.