BC YOUNG ABORIGINAL FISHERS CONFERENCE

 

The Native Fishing Association (NFA) hosted the first annual BC Young Aboriginal Fishers Conference which was held January 26-28, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel in Richmond, BC. The Conference invited active fishers under 40/45 years old that were interested in building their operations and diversifying their fishing skills and experiences. Over 70 participants attended, representing early-career fishers, whether vessel operators or experience deckhands.

The principal objective of the NFA has always been to stabilize, support, and increase Aboriginal participation in the BC fishing industry. Besides administering a revolving loan fund and small licence bank, the NFA has recently invested in building a database of all Aboriginal Fisher in BC. One of the critical issues that emerged from this work is the need to provide a supported career development path for young entrepreneurial Aboriginal commercial fishers. The Conference was the beginning of the NFA respectfully asking this new generation of fishers what their vision was for the next 20-50 years as they face completely different and complex dynamics than previous generations of Aboriginal fishers.

 

CONFERENCE GOALS:

The goals of the conference were to provide participants the opportunity to:

1. Meet and discuss with fellow peers ways in which to diversify and strengthen fishing skills and experiences.

2. Identify challenges and concerns regarding the industry and discuss interests, reflections, and opportunities.

3. Work together to build partnerships and/or economies of scale.

Click here for a copy of the Final Agenda

 

ACTION PLAN- GOALS OUTLINED BY BC YOUNG ABORIGINAL FISHERS:

1. CONNECT ABORIGINAL FISHERS WITH ABORIGINAL LICENCES/QUOTA:

“First Nations licences were meant for First Nations fishermen” was a resounding sentiment at the Conference. Too often decision-makers who control licences are leased to choose profits above all other important objectives. In particular, conference participants feel like the PICFI program has often done an ‘end-game’ around Aboriginal fisher in order to achieve highest prices for their licences.

2. BETTER STRATEGIC USE OF REVENUES FROM LICENCES LEASES and PICFI FUNDING:

Revenues often seem to benefit consultants, varied fisheries organizations or band administrations before they benefit Aboriginal fishers who make their living in the fishing industry. If some of the revenues from First Nations licence leases were properly reinvested back into the community of Aboriginal fishers, it would help them bring more youth into the industry with real deckhand positions and experiential learning.

3. FOR FISHERS TO ATTEND CFE/COUNCIL MEETING to HELP EDUCATE DIRECTORS and COUNSELLORS ABOUT THE REALITIES OF THE FISHING INDUSTRY:

Commercial Fishing Enterprises (CFEs) are often run by people who may be experienced administrators but have limited commercial fishing knowledge. The relationships between fishing business decisions and Aboriginal career fishers in the community need to be strengthened.

4. BC YOUNG ABORIGINAL FISHERS TO FORM AN ORGANIZATION THAT REPRESENTS THEIR INTERESTS:

An Interim Aboriginal Fishers Committee has been struck up to explore the best way to form an organization that represent their interests and allows for them to work towards having a formalized Aboriginal voice recognized by decision makers.

 

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the NFA Office at any time at 604-913-2997.