Positions On Issues


Co-Management Work Shop Executive Summary

Co-management—or shared stewardship of the resource—provides a fisheries management policy framework that enhances both conservation of the resource and economic success for the industry.

This was the conclusion of a 1 ý day workshop, held October 2002, for more than 100 seafood industry leaders and senior staff from both Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF). Both industry and government committed to taking the necessary steps to revitalize fisheries management policy in support of the twin objectives of environmental and economic viability.

The workshop was organized by the BC Seafood Alliance with the support of DFO and MAFF to explore ways to manage fisheries to meet the needs of the international marketplace without jeopardizing the first priority of conservation. Improved co-management arrangements are one of the eight action items in the Alliance’s Vision for Modern Seafood Industry in British Columbia developed following another industry/government conference in 2001. The Vision calls for all parties over a five-year period to:

negotiate co-operative management agreements for all of BC’s commercial fisheries that establish roles and responsibilities of the federal government, the provincial government and fisheries interests—and provides security of access for tenure holders.

The Workshop Program

Setting the stage was a report from MAFF on the economic performance of the seafood industry in BC. In 2001, harvests from commercial fishing and aquaculture totaled 256,000 tonnes with a landed value of $644 million while finished seafood products generated more than $1 billion wholesale. BC’s seafood exports increased 8 per cent in 2001, to $974 million with shipments to 39 countries. In total, the industry employs 1,500 people, contributes more than $1 billion in revenues to the provincial economy, and accounts for more than $380 million in GDP annually.

In an ever more competitive global market, industry needs clear policies and regulations if it is to continue this success and meet worldwide demand for sustainable, high quality seafood products.

Edwin Blewett provided the immediate context for the discussion in his Status Report on Co-Managed Fisheries in BC while consultant Barry Kauffman drew on his experience with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority to show how other jurisdictions have coped with the challenge of implementing co-management. Peter Pearse looked beyond co-management to analyse how stronger property rights in fisheries advance both protection of fish stocks and the economic performance of commercial fishing industries. Rebecca Reid from DFO Pacific Region and Pat Chamut from DFO HQ provided the federal perspective while Garnet Jones of the Fisheries Council of Canada summarized industry view. Click here to read these papers.

The heart of the workshop was a series of small-group discussions on the practical implications of co-management across a diverse spectrum of BC fisheries large and small. This gave delegates a chance to make recommendations for an improved template for the way fisheries are managed. The groups covered four main areas:

Security of access;
Organizational structure;
Funding co-management;
Flexibility and consistency.


Security of Access

Consultant Edwin Blewett identified security of access as one of the thorniest issues to be resolved. This because the current Fisheries Act requires that the "ultimate authority of the Minister in matters of fisheries management must be preserved." Many industry members, however, believe that increased security of access is what drives the co-operative behaviour and long term planning that are necessary for both conservation and investment.
The group discussed practical ways to move towards more security of access including

1. Improved advisory decision-making processes through

Recognition of economic objectives;
Transparent and accountable decision-making;
Risk management;
Communication and trust building

2. Improved public perception and support for co-management through

Engagement of all stakeholders;

3. Stronger, improved quality of access through

Defined processes and policies;
Transparent decision-making rules;
Specified allocations that market mechanisms that can provide for adjustments and transferability.

Organizational Structure

This group looked at what’s involved in co-management partnerships. How do we define them? How do we agree on meaningful objectives? Who does what and under what authority? How do such partnerships deal with others with an interest in the fishery?

The group focused on:

Industry partners—the need for viable, cohesive associations
DFO—reduction of horizontal conflicts, more stable tenure for decision-makers, defining and reducing Ministerial intervention
Timely decision making with mechanisms to deal quickly with in-season issues;
Involvement of other stakeholders—the Federal Regional Council might bring together all government players; organizations need to be mature enough to deal with economic, biological, ecological and social implications of co-management;
The relationship between IFMPs and co-management. IFMPs need support structures and pre-season planning if they are to be effective planning tools. Recognition of economic objectives is essential.

Funding Co-Management

This session focused on 12 possible funding mechanisms for co-management that could be used singly or in combination. Given the diversity of fisheries, no one solution should be expected to fit all. Each mechanism was evaluated against 13 desirable attributes ranging from no negative impact on resource sustainability to legally permitted and administratively possible.

The top five were:

Access fees (the preferred option)
Use of resource/use of fish
Conditions of issuance
Conditions of licence

The group concluded that DFO needed to do more work to clarify the legalities of some mechanisms and the regulatory framework that governs their use. Clear policy direction from DFO is essential.

Flexibility vs Consistency

Participants started with the assumption that co-management is a continuum with different fisheries ready for different things. Flexibility therefore outweighs consistency. Nonetheless, equity is important even if uniformity is undesirable.

Areas where flexibility is particularly important include:

Implementation capacity of associations;
Payment terms and cost recovery, especially for less valuable fisheries;
Level and extent of activities undertaken;
Fluctuations in the resource;
Fluctuations in market conditions

The group also noted that

If DFO offloads responsibility for provision of services to associations, it has a responsibility to help them build capacity as well;
Better mechanisms for shared stewardship and shared accountability are desirable; existing advisory processes must be improved.
Government and industry need to state their objectives clearly in order to ensure reciprocal understanding. Mutual accountability, trust and open communication are essential.