Positions On Issues


By Rebecca Reid

A. Introduction

The overall objective of the paper is to outline an operational framework through which industry/Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) discussions on co-management arrangements can be advanced. The purpose is not to detail a preferred DFO position on co-management, but rather to initiate a process to develop mutually beneficial enhancements to current co-management arrangements.

The focus of this paper is co-management in commercial fisheries. However, given that multi-stakeholder participation is an important aspect to DFO’s co-management approach, the paper touches on the involvement of other stakeholders when necessary.

The Department has indicated a need and willingness to enhance co-management arrangements. For example, DFO’s discussion paper, A Framework for Improved Decision-Making in the Pacific Salmon Fishery, notes with respect to the salmon fishery:

Over the last twenty years, a wide range of formal and informal structures for receiving advice has been established, including ongoing committees and advisory boards, task groups and other mechanisms for liaison with all interested parties. These structures have evolved in an ad-hoc way and may not meet the current needs of those involved in the fishery.

Some advisory processes are clearly outdated; for example, commercial salmon advisory committees do not reflect the current gear and area-based commercial licensing structure in the fishery. Many committees lack clarity of terms of reference and roles and responsibilities. And, there are ongoing concerns about the representation on present advisory committees and the mandate and accountability of these advisors.

In addition, the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review’s discussion paper, The Management of Fisheries on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, notes that, subject to specific fundamental responsibilities, "…many important areas of decision making, including allocation, licensing and quota management, could gradually be taken over by stakeholders working together." The discussion document goes on to outline four functions that should form DFO’s mandate, two of which are:

establishing an orderly management system in which participants share responsibilities and decision making with the Department and accept responsibility and accountability, where feasible and appropriate, for many aspects of day-to-day fisheries management;

strengthening the structures and processes that will enable resource users and other stakeholders to play a more active role in fisheries management planning and decision making, and facilitating their participation.

The paper is organized as follows. The first section briefly discusses the meaning of co-management. The second section reviews co-management arrangements currently in place in various fisheries. The final section sets up a framework for furthering the discussion of exactly "where and how" current co-management arrangements can be strengthened. To move forward, something more than generalizations and broad statements are required, and the final section attempts to focus the discussion on operational specifics.

b. What is Co-Management?

Before beginning a discussion on co-management, it is first necessary to define the term. It should be noted from the start that there is no generally accepted definition of co-management.

One possible aspect to co-management relates to the development of specific Joint Project agreements, co-management agreements and/or other forms of collaborative arrangements between DFO and industry. This perspective is noted in the paper by M. James, entitled, Co-management and Beyond: The British Columbia Experience:

Implementation of an industry funded catch monitoring program could be considered a simple form of co-management. A co-management agreement that includes cost recovery, joint and separate roles and responsibilities for enforcement, science, and management, and security of access could be considered a more comprehensive and complex form of co-management. Co-management can include elements of delegated management outlined in an agreement with industry.

DFO’s draft document, Framework and Guidelines for Implementing the Co-Management Approach (Volume I: Context, Concept and Principles) suggests that DFO’s fisheries-specific multi-stakeholder advisory committees may fall under the co-management umbrella, stating that:

The focus of these documents is to define a standard framework for fisheries co-management involving two steps. Step one is based on the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP). An IFMP is required for most fisheries, and is created in consultation with resource users, usually through an advisory committee. Participation in the IFMP process is considered the basic form of fisheries co-management. The second step in the co-management framework is a legally binding Joint Project Agreement.

The independent panel report by Donald Savoie, Partnering the Fishery: Report of the Panel Studying Partnering, also links DFO’s advisory committees to co-management, and makes a number of explicit recommendations (to be discussed later) on improving the advisory committee system.

As is noted in a paper on the Australian model of co-management, multi-stakeholder advisory committees are considered the focal point in that country’s approach to co-management.

Finally, the (proposed) breakout sessions for this Conference deal with a variety of proposed co-management issues, including: security of access, funding co-management, implementing co-management and co-management organizations.

The objective of this paper is to not rule in or out any of the above perspectives of what falls under the heading of co-management. What constitutes co-management is, in fact, an important question that needs to be discussed. Consequently, in this paper the commercial sector’s involvement in fisheries management is examined with respect to the following three major areas:

the advisory/decision making framework;
the provision of fisheries management services (such as stock assessment, dockside monitoring, enforcement, and licensing); and,
the funding of specific fisheries management services.

The next section provides a brief outline of how commercial fishers in the Pacific Region are involved in each of the above three potential components of co-management. The issue of security of access is discussed in the final section of the paper.


C. DFO’s Current Approach to Co-Management

1. Advisory/Decision-Making Framework

This section examines a number of characteristics of DFO’s advisory/decision-making framework, including the mandate, selection of members, selection of chairpersons and operating procedures in DFO’s fisheries-specific co-management advisory bodies.

The first thing to note is that DFO/Minister maintains sole decision-making power and that the fisheries-specific co-management bodies discussed below are strictly advisory bodies providing advice to DFO.

Table 1 outlines the DFO co-management body for a number of fisheries. While the wording is at times different, the mandate for each of these advisory bodies is largely the same.

Table 1: DFO Co-management Advisory Bodies

Commercial Fishery DFO Advisory Body Commercial Fishery DFO Advisory Body
Halibut Halibut Advisory Board Salmon New advisory arrangements are being developed.
Sablefish Sablefish Advisory Committee Crab Crab Sectoral Committee
Rockfish – Hook & Line Groundfish Hook & Line Advisory Committee Shrimp Trawl Shrimp Trawl Sectoral Committee
Groundfish Trawl & Hook & Line Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee Shrimp & Prawn Trap Prawn Sectoral Committee
Geoduck & Horse Clam Geoduck Sectoral Committee Herring Herring Industry Advisory Board
Red Sea Urchin Red Sea Urchin Sectoral Committee Euphausiid Euphausiid Sectoral Committee
Sea Cucumbers Sea Cucumber Sectoral Committee Clam Pacific Regional Clam Management Committee

The mandate for the Geoduck & Horse Clam fishery, which is similar to the mandate for the rest, is to:

allow exchange of information between stakeholders and DFO;
advise on development of annual management plans and long-term management strategies;
provide information and advice regarding stock assessment and biological research;
advise DFO on use of discretionary penalties against harvesters caught violating rules and regulations; and
recommend representatives to other advisory bodies as required.

While there are some exceptions, advisory bodies are also similar with respect to: selection of advisors/chairpersons, openness to multi-stakeholder participation, and procedures by which advisory body meetings are held. As a general rule:

although there are some differences, the terms of reference of advisory bodies allow for participation of various stakeholders, including licence holders, First Nations, recreational fishers, unions, processors/buyers, B.C. Government, DFO and non-consumptive users
licence holders elect their advisors, while DFO selects non-licence holder advisors;
DFO often reserves the right to select additional advisors to ensure adequate representation of industry and other stakeholders;
advisors are expected to represent the interests of their constituents (not necessarily the long-term interests of the fishery);
DFO chairs meetings;
observers are allowed to attend meetings, although this often requires permission of the chair; and
written minutes of meetings are taken and made available to the public, and written recommendations require consensus - however a written summary of consenting & dissenting opinions should be recorded in the minutes.

There are differences amongst advisory bodies in terms of the relative number of advisors from various stakeholder groups, and selection of the chairperson (e.g., for the Halibut Advisory Board, the chairperson can be either the Halibut Coordinator or an individual selected by the Board, in all other cases DFO must chair).

In addition, only the Prawn Sectoral Committee’s terms of reference state that "…the department will endeavour to refer fishers and other outside parties who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice, to the appropriate committee representatives."

Of course, there may be differences amongst advisory committees with respect to the actual attendance of various stakeholder groups at meetings, extent of coverage of discussions in the minutes of meetings, and the types of issues discussed.

2. Provision of Fisheries Management Services

In addition to the organizational structure and mandate of the various DFO fisheries-specific advisory bodies discussed above, a second possible component of co-management relates to the provision of fisheries management services.

Fisheries management requires a number of services, including: gathering catch, fishing effort, biological and other data, development of annual management plans and long-term management strategies, evaluation of enforcement options, delivering enforcement arrangements (e.g., dockside monitoring and hail in/out provisions), stock assessment and other biological research, etc.

Table 2 provides examples of the different types of arrangements used to deliver fisheries management services. For some fisheries, DFO solely manages the delivery of all management service.

Table 2: Service Delivery and Funding Arrangements

Service Delivery Management Primary Funding Mechanism Fishery Industry Association
(A) DFO management only Public Funding Various fisheries n.a
(B) Joint DFO/industry management through Joint Project Agreements (i.e. funds from industry flow to DFO to cost share program delivery)
  1. Use of resource arrangements
  2. Voluntary payments by fishers to associations

e.g. Halibut, Herring

e.g. Sablefish, Geoduck, Praw

Pacific Halibut Management Association, Herring Conservation and Research Society

Canadian Sablefish Association; Underwater Harvesters Association; Pacific Prawn Fishers Association

(C) Industry selects a DFO approved service provider and pays directly. There is a JPA, though no industry funds flow through DFO
  1. Payment by fishers to their association who contracts provider of services or
  2. Direct payment by individual licence holders to service provider
e.g. Red Sea Urchin Pacific Urchin Harvester Association
(D) Licence holders pay for monitoring/observer services directly (i.e. no funds flow through DFO and there is no JPA/CA) Fishers pay provider of services directly. Ground Fish Trawl n/a

The first model of "co-management" (i.e. "B" in table 2) with respect to service delivery involves Joint Project Agreements or Collaborative Agreements (JPAs/CAs). In the Halibut fishery, DFO and the Pacific Halibut Management Association enter into a formal JPA that allows for joint management and funding of certain management and scientific services. Specifically, an agreed work plan is established that sets out various activities that both parties agree to undertake. For example, the Association drafts management plans and licence conditions for the commercial halibut fishery for review and approval by DFO. In addition to supplying advice, the Association also undertakes to deliver specific management services, such as funding and ensuring the operation of an independent dockside monitoring program. The JPA’s work plan also outlines various fisheries management (e.g., making decisions regarding conservation of the resource, opening and closing of the fishery and approval of management plans), enforcement and biological services to be supplied by DFO.

In the second type of co-managed service delivery mechanism (i.e. "C" in table 2 above), licence holders are required by condition of licence to make arrangements for services from a third party (e.g. for monitoring of catch). In the Red Sea Urchin fishery licence holders through their association negotiate a JPA with the department outlining very specific requirements for data collection and handling to be performed by the third part service provider. There may also be other co-management responsibilities outlined for DFO and the PUHA in the JPA. There is no provision of funds by industry to the department as part of the Urchin JPA. In this type of example costs for third party monitoring contracts are either paid for by the industry association with funds collected from fishers, or by fishers directly.

In the third type of co-management (i.e. "D" in table 2 above) licence holders are required by condition of licence to make arrangements for services from a third party for monitoring of catch. The difference from C is that there is no JPA/CA with DFO outlining data requirements, or any other responsibilities for either DFO or industry.

The following points briefly summarize current co-management arrangements concerning DFO/industry joint delivery of management and other cost shared services:

Although they are given different names, JPAs and collaborative agreements are both binding legal agreements between DFO and Industry Associations/Societies related to the provisions of management services (the term Co-management Agreement is currently being proposed for a new agreement in the Geoduck and Horse Clam fishery).
There are differences in the level and types of services covered under joint agreements in different fisheries, and the tenure of agreements also differ.
The focus of project agreements relates to the provision of specific management, enforcement and biological services, as opposed to enabling associations to unilaterally make key resource management decisions. While some agreements allow for an industry association to supply advice on management plans and licence conditions, this should not be confused with devolution of decision making. Delivering a management service, such as dockside monitoring, is completely different from "making decisions regarding conservation of the resource, opening and closing of the fishery and approval of management plans." Project agreements do not and legally cannot fetter the Ministerís absolute discretion with respect to key resource management issues.
In fisheries where project agreements call for the provision of advice on key management issues (such as management plans), DFO does not necessarily just rely on the advice coming from the industry association that is party to the agreement. For example, with respect to the management plans, DFO also frequently canvasses advice from other individuals, other associations and other stakeholders ≠ including the Departmentís official fisheries-specific advisory committees.
Project agreements are not a vehicle to gather and focus multi-stakeholder advice on key resource management issues, at most they are one source for a commercial sector perspective.

3. Funding Fisheries Management Services

The third component of co-management relates to the funding of fisheries management services. Table 2 provides a few examples of alternative funding mechanisms. In a number of fisheries, all or most fisheries management services are provided through public funds. In this situation, there is no co-management aspect to funding.

In other fisheries, alternative funding mechanisms are used to facilitate co-management with respect to the delivery of management services. In some fisheries, industry associations are involved in the funding of specific management services via funds received by catching and selling the resource through special licensing arrangements. For example, in the halibut fishery, although not part of the JPA, the Pacific Halibut Management Association receives an allocation of the resource which the association uses to generate funds to cover operating expenses and staff, services the association delivers under the JPA, as well as other activities of the association (marketing, advocacy). In other cases, associations’ fund management services through voluntary fees collected from members – in the Geoduck fishery the voluntary fees are generated from the sale of logbooks. The establishment of a condition of licence by DFO may create impetus within industry to organize to collect fees from licence holders and to negotiate third party service contracts, e.g. for dockside monitoring (DMP).

Finally, in some fisheries, where licence conditions establish a requirement for third party services such as DMP licence holders may pay third parties directly for services provided. Whether this should be considered an example of funding co-management is an open question. Clearly, relative to a situation where DFO both supplies and funds a specific management service (such as dockside monitoring), this option reduces the role of DFO and increases the involvement of industry.

In summary, in an attempt not to preclude or fetter discussion on what constitutes "co-management", the first section of this paper took an open approach to the issue, and looked at all aspects of industry involvement in fisheries management, including industry: participation in formal DFO advisory groups, involvement in supplying management services, and funding of management services. The second section then briefly examined various operational examples of co-management arrangements in each of these three categories.

The last section of this paper raises various issues that may be worthy of consideration in examining how co-management arrangements could be improved to the mutual benefit of DFO and the commercial sector. What follows is not a DFO perspective on how the Department would like to see co-management evolve, but rather it is an attempt to engage the commercial sector in a discussion on the future evolution of co-management arrangements. The objective is to help determine the important questions and issues for future joint discussions and mutual evaluation.


D. The Future: Addressing Stakeholder and DFO Concerns with the Status Quo

Both the Department and various stakeholders have expressed concern with the status quo. The Department has argued the need for a less "command and control" approach (or to use another term, less "paternalistic" approach) to fisheries management. And a number of stakeholders have echoed similar sentiments.

Donald Savoie, in his report, Partnering the Fishery: Report of the Panel Studying Partnering, characterizes the current situation as follows:

The current approach to managing the fishery places in the hands of the minister the power to decide who can fish and even how one can fish. Put differently, the minister has in his hands the power to decide who can make money in the fishery and who cannot. In brief, the power of the minister is great by any standard. It is such that it encourages virtually everyone in the sector to lobby and to promote narrow interests before the minister and departmental officials. The minister can never win because for every case he agrees to promote, he will disappoint the several that he has to turn down. In addition, if there is chaos in the industry or a collapse in the resource, then people will naturally point the finger at those who hold in their hands all the power – the minister and the department.

Using the co-management framework developed above, this section outlines a number of issues that DFO and stakeholders may want to discuss in order to "enhance" the current co-management arrangements outlined in the previous section.

The following discussion is predicated on enhancements to status quota advisory, service delivery and funding arrangements that do not require changes to the Fisheries Act. This is not to say that more fundamental changes to co-management arrangements could not take place over time.

1. Enhancing the advisory/decision making framework

Assuming for discussion purposes that DFO’s fisheries-specific advisory committees are considered a component of co-management, this sub-section examines various changes to advisory committees that may (or may not) enhance co-management. Once again, it is important to note that the purpose is simply to begin a dialogue, the objective is not to establish a preferred DFO position.

Savoie’s "Partnering" report provides the following perspective on improving advisory committees:

…the panel recommends that DFO take stock of the various committees, assess those that appear to be performing well and then, identify ways to apply "lessons learned" to the others that are not. The DFO should also identify ways to coordinate the work of the various advisory committees and incorporate better the advice that the committees generate. If the advice of the committees is not retained then, DFO should, as a matter of policy, explain why.

The current structure and terms of reference of DFO’s fisheries-specific advisory bodies were outlined earlier. This raises the question of exactly what types of changes to these bodies would be required to produce enhanced co-management?

In attempting to answer this question, the following issues may be worthwhile discussing:

  1. As is the case in for the Prawn Sectoral Committee, should the Department endeavour to refer fishers and other outside parties, who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice, to the appropriate advisory committee representatives? Would applying this policy to all fisheries-specific DFO advisory committees help to enhance the role of these bodies? While directed at industry associations, the following quote from the M. James paper, Co-management and Beyond, may also be applicable to DFO’s advisory committees:
  2. …if individual fishermen have success (either in political attention or actual change in policy) by separately engaging fisheries administrators or politicians, this undermines the collective decision making processes of the associations. While not wishing to take away from anyone’s right to express their opinion or to try to influence politicians, government administrators can support representative associations by words and actions supportive of further co-operative actions.

  3. Should the mandate of DFO fisheries-specific advisory bodies be enhanced? For example:

Subject to information availability, should DFO’s fisheries-specific advisory bodies be given an even greater role to provide advice on all (not just industry-funded) management, science and enforcement expenditures, regardless of funding source? Would this help to improve DFO’s ability to establish expenditure priorities? Similarly, could/should advisory committees play a greater role in providing advice on research priorities? What changes to the advisory committee system would be required if they were to undertake this "enhanced" role?

  1. Could the current method of selecting and changing licence-holder advisors and other stakeholders be improved?
  2. Should advisors offer advice solely on the basis of the interests of their constituents, or should all advice be first explicitly conditioned on the conservation interests of the fishery?
  3. Should DFO act as the chairperson for advisory bodies, or would the use of independent chairs and possible independent executive officers enhance the co-management aspect of these committees?
  4. Could the current process whereby advisory body minutes are taken and recommendations are made be improved?
  5. Could the process whereby DFO responds to advisory body advice (when there is not necessarily consensus) and recommendations (when there is consensus) be improved? For example, in keeping with Savoie’s suggestion, if advice from the advisory body is not retained then, should DFO, as a matter of policy, explain why?
  6. In providing advice on management plans, is the relative role of advisory committees and Industry Associations with relevant project agreements clear?
  7. Should consideration be given to amalgamating advisory committees in fisheries that harvest the same species?

2. Further devolution in the delivery of fisheries management services

The second component of co-management relates to the delivery of fisheries management services through joint DFO/industry project agreements. In Co-management and Beyond, M. James makes the following three separate observations:

It is unlikely that fishery management in Canada would ever be completely delegated to industry, however certain aspects of decision making could be assumed by stakeholders.

Underlying all of the issues stalling commitment to moving to greater security of access and co-management is the public confidence that the public interest in marine resources will be better protected using these tools than it would with the alternative of strict government control and regulation of fisheries.

Without public support, political support for delegated management initiatives will be difficult to achieve.

These observations raise the following questions:

  1. What categories of management activities can be delegated to industry associations?
  2. What types of management activities must remain under DFO’s control, and could DFO’s fisheries-specific advisory committees be given an enhanced role in providing advice (as discussed above) with respect to these types of activities – thus enhancing stakeholder input in these restricted group of activities?
  3. If successful, would these two types of enhancements to stakeholder input act to increase public support for greater co-management?
  4. Could the policy concerning the use of JPAs and collaborative agreements be improved? For example, what are the pre-requisites to devolving the delivery of certain management services (such as dockside monitoring) to Industry Associations? What factors are considered in establishing the tenure of project agreements? What criteria are used to determine an Association’s eligibility to enter into joint project agreements?
  5. What role should DFO play in determining minimum requirements concerning the constitutions of Associations with which it enters into joint project agreements?

3. Refinements in the funding of fisheries management services

Fisheries management is an expensive business and DFO is experiencing ever increasing demands to provide additional services. While not formally part of DFO/industry joint project agreements, use of resource arrangements and cost recovery mechanisms have important implications for the funding of such agreements. DFO’s stance with respect to voluntary payments made to industry associations also impacts on the funding of joint project agreements.

This raises the question of whether there are refinements to DFO funding-related policies that could improve the evolution of services delivered under joint project agreements. It is worth noting that some current joint project agreements also provide for partial funding of DFO’s fisheries-specific advisory committees. Possible issues for discussion include:

  1. Is the combination of voluntary payments to associations, cost recovery mechanisms, use of resource arrangements and fisher direct payments to third party service providers sufficiently integrated and robust enough to meet future needs?
  2. In allocating fish under use of resource arrangements or in facilitating an association’s ability to collect voluntary fees, what responsibility does DFO have to ensure that the association’s constitution meets minimum acceptable standards?

4. Strengthening security of access/allocation

Security of access and allocation are certainly important issues to commercial fishers. However, it may be prudent to advance enhancements to co-management arrangements regardless of progress in strengthening access security.

In fact, the establishment of an enhanced DFO advisory system, along with improvements to joint DFO/industry service provision and funding arrangements, may well provide the Minister, the Department and the public at large with the comfort that they need to issue more secure access arrangements to the commercial sector.

In addition, Edwin Blewett & Associates’ status report on Co-Managed Fisheries supports DFO’s position. The report concludes that "…Security of access is the thorniest issue. I leave it to the long run primarily so that it does not interfere with discussion and resolution of short-and-medium-term issues. It is a very important to industry, especially those fisheries furthest along the co-management continuum but it is the most troublesome issue to the department which has been urged not to amend the Fisheries Act in ways that would facilitate resource users having a say in access, licencing and allocation. Even on the practical front of what can be done regarding this issue within the current Fisheries Act, the parties appear to have strongly opposed views. Without denigrating the importance of this issue, it should not in my view be allowed to interfere with progress in other areas where there seems to be greater chance of progress in the short-to-medium-term."


E. Next Steps

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to working with industry in a cooperative approach. The ideas outlined in this paper are meant to inspire some discussion about how these co-management arrangements and interactions can be developed or improved. A mutually beneficial working relationship is ideal for all parties involved to move forward and achieve the desired goals. Although some of the DFO policies have not yet formally been officially adopted (i.e.: improved decision making, use of resource, fishery monitoring, etc), these initiatives support the concepts of co-management. Incorporating these concepts into an operational framework is achievable when industry and DFO work together. The co-management arrangements that are developed between DFO and industry for commercial fisheries may serve as the basis of an example for other stakeholder relations.



"A Framework for Improved Decision Making in the Pacific Salmon Fishery"

"The Management of Fisheries on Canada's Atlantic Coast", Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review's discussion paper

Savoie, Donald. "Partnering the Fishery: Report of the Panel Studying Partnering".

All of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's New Directions discussion and final policy documents can be found here:

Fisheries Dialogue Forum Working Group. "Co-operative Management with First Nations in a Fisheries Context - Principles, Practice and Ideas" May 2001.

Available through Resource Management, DFO, Pacific Region. (604) 666-4775
James, Michelle"Co-Management and Beyond: The British Columbia Experience"
Edwin Blewett & Associates Inc "Status Report on Co-Managed Fisheries"