January 15, 2004
BC SEAFOOD ALLIANCE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE JOINT FEDERAL/PROVINCIAL
TASK GROUP ON PRINCIPLES FOR THE SETTLEMENT OF THE FISHERIES COMPONENT
OF TREATY NEGOTIATIONS IN BC
1. Member organizations of the BC Seafood
Alliance (BCSA) represent both First Nations and non-First Nations
investors in the commercial seafood industry in BC. Collectively,
they account for about 90 per cent of the capture seafood produced
in British Columbia. The Alliance understands and accepts that there
will be increased access to fisheries and marine resources for First
Nations both inside and outside the treaty process. This transfer
of access must take place fairly and equitably in a way that assures
both conservation and economic viability. Policies to date are moving
us towards an industry that is not sustainable, not competitive,
and not profitable for any operator, First Nations or otherwise.
2. The BCSA has four key principles to guide
development of the seafood industry: conservation, sustainable management,
secure access, and market responsiveness. Long-term uncertainty
is currently a significant deterrent to investment in the development
of sustainable seafood resources in BC. Governments must ensure
certainty of access as well as a responsive and progressive regulatory
and policy environment in all aspects of seafood production otherwise
the sector will not be able to meet the demands of the global seafood
market. Our vision for a modern seafood industry in BC calls for
a) a positive business climate for all seafood businesses in BC—First
Nations or otherwise—that encourages investment in future
development. This requires greater security of access and implementation
of policies that ensure any new access to capture fisheries be retired
with fair market compensation out of existing fishery access; and
b) an industry that can count on government to ensure that all commercial
interests in the British Columbia seafood sector are regulated by
a non-discriminatory, consistent and uniform management and legislative
framework that does not create unfair advantages for some businesses
Without these pre-conditions, no seafood industry (whether predominantly
First Nations or not) can thrive.
3 Governments need to have a vision of what the fishery will look
like post-treaty. Without a plan, the end result will be a patchwork
of separate fisheries, each regulated differently, with inconsistent
conservation, licencing, gear, harvesting, monitoring, food safety,
inspection and regulatory requirements. This balkanization of commercial
fisheries would cripple monitoring and enforcement, jeopardize conservation,
destroy the economic wealth the fishery can provide, and make it
impossible to meet the demand of domestic and international consumers
for safe, quality, environmentally sustainable seafood from BC.
4. The principles established should apply, no matter who harvests
the resource. The perception that the debate over fisheries rights
is between First Nations and other Canadians has not been helpful.
We offer two examples. First, under current policies, even a 100
per cent transfer of allocation of Fraser River sockeye to First
Nations would not solve any of the management problems associated
with this fishery. Second, the spawn on kelp fishery, which is 85
per cent First Nations, has suffered from exactly the same issues
as we raise here—the lack of a level playing field and different
applications of conservation, management, and cost-recovery requirements.
II: Overarching Principles for Fisheries Treaty Settlements
1. Negotiations over allocation, within the treaty process or outside,
must take place in the context of a clearly articulated vision for
commercial fisheries in the future.
2. This vision must be based on the market economy. Otherwise participants
in the fishery will not have sufficient opportunity to make a reasonable
living from it and British Columbians will lose the opportunity
for the fishery to be an important contributor to the provincial
economy. Experiences on the east coast have shown us what happens
when the focus is on social engineering rather than the needs of
3. Settlements must conform to the “good neighbour”
principle, seeking win/win solutions where the entire industry will
be better off rather than disadvantaging one group of licence holders
in favour of another.
4. The commercial fishery should not bear the costs and burden of
treaty settlements. Any obligation to provide increased access for
First Nations should not be borne by the existing industry (First
Nations or other Canadians) or by First Nations bands and communities,
but by all Canadians equitably.
III: Principles for Fisheries Treaty Settlements: Commercial
1. Ensure sustainable fisheries for all participants.
2. Ensure a level playing field for all participants. This means
that commercial harvesting for a species or group of species must
operate under the same terms, conditions, rules and policies.
3. Equal security of access for all participants with access to
the resource gained through the commercial licencing system, and
every licence within a fishing category subject to identical opportunities
and obligations. If one group of participants is permitted a 25-year,
renewable licence, then that option must be available to all participants.
4. All participants must contribute equitably to co-management and
5. All fisheries must be monitored with participants in any fishery
subject to exactly the same monitoring requirements and standards.
6. Where increased First Nations’ participation is contemplated,
existing commercial fishing licences and/or quota must be the sole
means of access. Transfers should be achieved by purchase of existing
licences and/or quota within a fishery on a “willing buyer-willing
seller” basis. De facto transfer of resources for commercial
purposes cannot be allowed as this erodes the viability and security
of commercially licenced participants.
7. All commercial licence categories should be eligible for buyout.
8. All fish caught under commercial authority must be identifiable
by an appropriate mechanism as commercial immediately after harvest
and throughout transportation and storage to point of sale. This
is in line with new international requirements for traceability
9. A commercial component cannot be part of a treaty-protected right.
Unlike FSC, harvest agreements must be external to the treaty.
10. Arrangements for access to new, limited entry fisheries should
be sufficiently flexible to enable the development of an effective,
profitable, market-driven fishery.
IV: Principles for Fisheries Treaty Settlements: Food, Social
and Ceremonial Component
1. FSC fish should be used for food, social and ceremonial purposes
in accordance with Canadian law in order to ensure First Nations
community needs are adequately met.
2. Food fish quantities to be based on legitimate FSC requirements
for band members.
3. Any increase in FSC over and above current levels must be bought
out from the commercial fishery and transferred to the First Nation.
This principle also applies to access to species non-integral to
4. FSC fish to be independently monitored, reported to DFO, and
identified as FSC fish by an appropriate mechanism immediately after
harvest and throughout transportation and storage.
5. No fishing for FSC and commercial or recreational purposes at
the same time with the same vessel unless the comprehensive monitoring
and reporting mechanisms are in place and enforced.