Thursday, November 21, 2019

MLA Rice hails contributions of the commercial fishing sector as part of World Fisheries Day preview

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided some notes on
World Fisheries Day for the Legislature on Wednesday

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice spoke to a topic close the heart of many in her home constituency on Wednesday afternoon at the British Columbia Legislature, with the MLA taking a few moments to say a few words about the Commercial Fishing industry.

Her comments came one day before the Legislature observed World Fisheries Day which takes place today.  It's an occasion which has brought a pair of Prince Rupert members from ecotrust Canada to Victoria for a few days, with Ms. Rice making note of their journey from Prince Rupert prior to her commentary.

Among her themes for the Legislature was the significance of the industry in the history of British Columbia, as well as some of the government's plans to provide for a Made in British Columbia wild salmon strategy.

Commercial fishing is one of the founding industries of this province. Its significance can be seen painted on the ceilings of the B.C. Legislature, and B.C. is actively working right now towards a made-in-B.C. wild salmon strategy. 

The fishing sector is a cornerstone in the economic and social fabric of B.C.'s coast.  And fishing is deeply rooted in our history and our culture. But fishing communities are struggling, and fishermen nowadays are often portrayed as the culprits to all the negative impacts felt by fish. 

I personally feel they are given a bad rap, an unfair rap. There are many influences — including fisheries mismanagement, poor policies, warming oceans and habitat destruction — that impact our global fisheries. 

The extraordinary efforts that went into an emergency response to the Big Bar Slide this summer is telling of the impacts of climate change. 

Ms. Rice also provided some commentary towards some of the long documented challenges that the fishing industry faces on the North Coast, making note of corporate measures that don't always ensure the best outcome for local communities in the region.

Close to home, independent fish harvesters need protections to rebuild the backbone of the rural middle class along our coast. Tens of millions of dollars of licences and quotas granting access to Canada's public fishery have been snapped up by corporate interests. 

Speculators are buying up fishing access to lease to fish processors and rent back to fish harvesters for profit, taking income directly out of their pockets and out of coastal communities. 

 Policies need to be put in place to ensure that fishing licences and the benefits they provide are for local fishermen and for local fishing communities, not for speculative investors, international shareholders or seafood processors to stifle competition for our resources. 

The economic viability of the next generation of fishermen in our coastal communities depends on improving these policies.

You can view her presentation to the Legislature below, the full transcript from the Legislature record can be reviewed here starting at the 2 PM mark

Learn more about how World Fisheries Day has been observed around the globe here.

For more items of note from Ms. Rice's efforts at the Legislature see our archive page here.

A wider overview of fishery issues on the North Coast can be found here.

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