Proposed salmon fishery changes will harm independent fishermen

VANCOUVER, Jan. 29, 2014 /CNW/ - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is considering changes to the BC salmon fishery that will wipe out independent fishermen and reduce proper oversight, says the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union (UFAWU-Unifor). Fishermen rallied downtown today at a meeting of the Commercial Salmon Advisory Board to voice their opposition.

"Selling off Salmon to the highest bidder will be a disaster for independent fishermen and small coastal communities," said Kim Olsen, President of UFAWU-Unifor. "We're proud to be independent fishermen, and we're not going to let the government decimate our fleets."

Under the current Open Fishery model, a fisherman's catch is determined by skill. Fishery managers closely monitor the stock and make adjustments to the Total Allowable Catch throughout the year to prevent over-fishing.

But under Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs), a fisherman's catch is determined by wealth. Quota prices rise with higher demand, allowing only large corporate fleets to purchase licenses. A quota system may allow too many salmon to be caught before fish managers realize the year's stock was lower than they predicted.

"All British Columbians have a stake in a healthy fishery and good jobs. ITQs accomplish neither," said Olsen.

The DFO is in the process of meeting with commercial salmon fishers' representatives to discuss the ITQ proposal. A decision is expected in the coming months.

ITQs are already in place in the halibut and bottom trawl fisheries where the majority of the resource must be leased by fisherman. Lease holders reap the majority of the profits while crew members are left with the risk and expenses but poor pay.

Unifor was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 with the merger of the Canadian Autoworkers with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union. With more than 300,000 members, it is Canada's largest union in the private sector.

SOURCE Unifor

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For more information please contact Unifor Western Regional Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549, or Ian.Boyko@unifor.org