CANADA’S FRESHWATER FISHERIES MUST REFORM TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE
Canada’s freshwater fisheries must reform to remain competitive. The Canadian Government has released a report on the way forward for the long-term economic viability of the country’s freshwater fisheries.
The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC) plays a critical role in collecting, processing and marketing freshwater fish on behalf of close to 1,600 harvesters, many from Indigenous communities that depend on this vital service.
Following Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s 2017 engagement process, a Ministerial Advisory Panel on the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation was established in September 2018 to explore ways to transform the FFMC and offer solutions that promote the long-term viability of the freshwater fishing industry. And now, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, released the Advisory Panel’s Final Report: Transformation of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.
The Panel’s report recognizes that Canada’s inland commercial fishery is evolving and that the FFMC must transform to remain competitive in today’s open market. The key recommendations of the Report include:
- Governance: increasing fish harvester participation, improving communication, building support among partners and integrating harvester perspectives in decision-making processes.
- Interlocutor: appointing a dedicated Interlocutor to assist with the transformation process, as a neutral third party.
- Capacity-building: facilitating stakeholders’ ability to work collaboratively and co-operatively, and assisting harvesters to participate in the open market environment.
The Panel’s recommendations recognize the potential for a harvester-led or partnership model for our inland fishery, with an emphasis on bringing harvester groups together to be a part of, and provide leadership in, a transformed FFMC. The Panel also recommends an approach for industry and its stakeholders to collectively shape the future of the FFMC and the inland fishery.
The Government of Canada is committed to exploring the feasibility of transforming the FFMC into a harvester-led entity that respects harvester ambitions for the future of the inland fishery. As a first step, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be appointing an interlocutor to engage with fish harvesters, Indigenous groups and other partners and to advise the Government on the industry’s willingness and capacity to sustain and co-operate under a harvester-led model In addition, the interlocutor will work with the federal government and other parties to establish a committee of representatives from the fishing industry, with an objective of improving communications, information sharing and decision making between harvesters and with the FFMC.
Over the coming months, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will take steps to appoint the interlocutor and undertake these initiatives in an open and transparent manner.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining certainty and stability in the inland fishery, harvesters and other stakeholders can be confident that the FFMC will continue to operate and serve their interests while the feasibility of its transformation continues to be explored.
Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said: “The Government of Canada is committed to stakeholder focused solutions that promote the long-term viability of the freshwater fishing industry. I would like to sincerely thank all members of the Advisory Panel for their advice and their dedication to enhancing the inland fisheries in western and northern Canada. Our inland fisheries are of particular importance to Indigenous peoples in northern and remote communities, and together we must ensure our inland fisheries are sustainable and preserved for future generations.”
Peter Vician, Chair, Ministerial Advisory Panel on the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, said:”The inland fishery is an important element of Canada’s character and holds particular importance with Indigenous peoples and in northern and remote communities. The Panel has identified a structure that reflects the considerable value of the fishery, provides a mechanism for people most closely linked to its success to be involved in future decisions and planning, and ensures future generations have the opportunity to participate in the inland fishery. The Panel is very appreciative of the opportunity to participate in a subject that is so important to the economic and social fabric of many communities in western and northern Canada.”