LICENCE BANK

 

The Native Fishing Association is seeking support to expand the NFA licence bank.  The Native Fishing Association has in recent years been making fishing licenses and quota available by way of leases to First Nations fishermen, many  of whom have previously been borrowers from NFA.  The Native Fishing Association would like to expand this program to help individual native fishermen and native families continue to own their own fishing licenses and quota.   In order to accomplish this, the Pacific Fishery Regulations policy will need to be amended to allow NFA to officially own reduced fee fishing licences and lease or sell them to, or buy them from Native Fishermen.   In furtherance of this, we will also be seeking additional funding from PICFI or DFO in order to allow NFA to increase the size of the licence bank.

NFA License Bank Proposal

Given the current state of the salmon and herring fisheries, where aboriginal harvesters are facing financial crises, the initial emphasis of the NFA licence and quota bank would be on reduced fee licences in these fisheries.  Because many First Nations fishers are in desperate financial straits, they see no choice but to offer their salmon or herring licences to PICFI at bargain-basement prices, and lose future access to the fishery.  This “race to the bottom” for aboriginal business persons runs counter to NFA’s Philosophy of supporting fishing families, and keeping them on a competitive footing with their non-native counterparts.  NFA is concerned that, in the absence of a viable alternative, and increasing number of First Nations licence holders will liquidate in the next two years and disappear from the industry thereafter.  Their boats and fishing gear will scatter, and their children are unlikely to be interested in a future career in fishing.  Who , then, will be positioned to utilize commercial fishery access, such as that provided by PICFI, in the future?

NFA believes that its licence bank concept may represent the viable alternative to this disastrous—but not unrealistic—scenario.

For the salmon fishery , regulatory or policy accommodations could be require to facilitate leasing of salmon licences (since licences are vessel-based, strict transferability rules apply that do not apply to communal licenses issued under PICFI).

It is critical that licences/quotas for more-profitable fisheries, such as halibut, sablefish, prawn, and crab also be included in the bank, since the  need for diversified fishery participation (not over-reliance  on salmon and herring) has been proven in the last two decades.

NFA would administer and allocate the portfolio to First Nations Fishermen.  With the NFA licence-bank working in concert with PICFI, a better-rounded socio-economic program would be delivered to BC First Nations.

NFA represents aboriginal commercial harvester’s coastwide, and has current capacity that can be built-upon to deliver an expanded service.

NFA is deeply committed to improving the financial lot of First Nations in the British Columbia commercial fisheries.  This aspiration is closely aligned with DFO’s PICFI plan objectives

 

How to Support NFA

NFA would like to explore what’s happening with aboriginal harvesters, to look at their needs (communal vs. Individual access), and to develop a strategy, and possible funding avenues, for setting up a licence bank.
Please contact Violet Hill for more information

Phone: 604-913-2997
Fax:604-913-2995
vhill@shoal.ca