Independent fishing families need your help: sign the petition!

Allison Hepworth - February 24, 2023

bc salmon fishing license owner operator petition west coast fishing

Since we started Skipper Otto in 2008, our goal has always been to fight for the rights of individual harvesters and coastal First Nations, to ensure the value of the fisheries flow into –  not away from – our communities.

One of the most beautiful things about the Skipper Otto community is that folks like you across the country care enough about harvesters in our Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishing communities that you’re willing to go to bat to protect their way of life. And once again, we’re asking for your support by signing a new and important petition.

But first, a quick back story on how we got to this point. 

Currently in BC, unlike anywhere else in North America, commercial fishing licenses can be owned by outside investors as opposed to active harvesters. This means that licenses and quotas in BC are bought and sold like investment tools, driving up the cost to fish and pushing out small-scale independent harvesters. As an example, upwards of 75% of the landed value of a halibut goes to the license owner, often a foreign company or investor. The harvester leasing that license gets 25% of the price of that fish to pay for all their costs including their boat, fuel, deck hands, and hopefully have a little money to pay themselves. In the rest of Canada and most of the US, this is illegal. And as a result, BC’s coastal communities are becoming ghost towns while coastal communities in Alaska and Atlantic Canada are thriving. We think this is just wrong and our Federal Government should enshrine in Pacific region policies the same “owner operator” and “fleet separation” frameworks that are working so well to protect a fishing way of life on the east coast.

Since 2016, Sonia has been working tirelessly as part of the Fisheries for Communities network to raise awareness of the injustices in pacific region licensing and quota policies at Provincial and Federal Government levels. In 2019, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans did an in-depth study of the situation in BC and wrote this report with 20 recommendations for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 

These 20 recommendations include the recommendation that

“based on the principle that fish in Canadian waters are a resource for Canadians (i.e. common property), no future sales of fishing quota and/or licenses be to non-Canadian beneficial owners.”

But 5 years later, not one of the recommendations has been fully implemented, and we’ve continued to see the gutting of our coastal communities. It’s time for us to demand that the Minister of Fisheries and the  Department of Fisheries and Oceans implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee’s report to protect what’s left of our coastal communities.

The future of independent fishing families and the next generations is at stake.

Therefore, we ask that you join us by signing this petition before March 22, 2023 asking the Minister of Fisheries immediately to ban any further transfer of Canadian commercial fishing licenses and quotas to foreign ownership or foreign beneficial interest. We know with the power of our community, we’ll blow that target out of the water!

Thank you for your support,

Sonia & Shaun and the Skipper Otto Team.

Click here to sign the petition and show your support!

Allison Hepworth - February 24, 2023

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Independent fishing families need your help: sign the petition!

Allison Hepworth - February 24, 2023

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