Monday, December 19, 2022

UFAWU-Unifor pushes back on DFO plans for Salmon Fishing licence Buy Back

Fishing Boats at dock in Prince Rupert

Last week the Federal Government, through the Department of Fisheries outlined its plans towards rebuilding the Pacific Salmon stocks, by putting in motion another round of licence buy backs.

We outlined the DFO plan last Thursday here, the DFO statement observing on how the program would be voluntary and base on market Values.

Following the release of the DFO program, the union which represents fishermen and Allied Workers on the West Coast, including the North Coast, provided their own interpretation of the proposed program and their rebuttal highlights a number of areas of concern.

In their own statement, UFAWU-Unifor called the buy back plans disheartening, expressing their concerns over what they say is a reverse action system that will see harvesters competing to sell their licences for the lowest price.

The statement noting of the areas they have troubles with towards the concept.

Harvesters have objected to a reverse auction since the buy-back was announced. DFO also declared that only $123 million of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative’s (PSSI) $647 million budget would be allocated to cover the licence retirement program, along with a licence alternation program and gear/vessel disposal program.

UFAWU-Organizer Dawn Webb noted of how the amounts being considered won't provide proper compensation.

“This amount will not come close to compensating the commercial salmon fleet for their significant financial investments into licences, vessels and gear. There has been minimal engagement with harvesters and stakeholders throughout this process, and none of the recommendations made by active harvesters were incorporated.”

UFAWU-Unifor President James Lawson also spoke to his concerns over the proposed buy back program observing of how the plan will impact on fishers and their families along the BC Coast.

“Many active fishers and fishing families rely on the sale of licences and vessels for retirement. With no access to fisheries, these working harvesters and owner-operators have become increasingly desperate.

 DFO could have set criteria and prioritized working fishers, but they didn’t, and it’s the investors and inactive harvesters who will survive this. This is not a just transition.

 PSSI is touted as a plan to reduce pressure on salmon stocks while helping to ‘drive the transition to a smaller, more financially viable and sustainable fishery for remaining harvesters. 

DFO’s ability to decide whether or not these licences are actually retired disregards this and is yet another example of a lack of transparency from DFO.”

More of the concerns from UFAWU-Unifor can be reviewed from their information statement here.

Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray did not indicate last week, when the buy back program is planned to start.

A look at themes of interest from the North Coast Fishing industry can be reviewed through our archive page.

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