KELTIC SEAFOOD FACEBOOK PHOTO                                Fish caught by commercial fishermen shipped to processors and distributors.

KELTIC SEAFOOD FACEBOOK PHOTO Fish caught by commercial fishermen shipped to processors and distributors.

Commercial fisheries off-loading business booming in Port Hardy

Off-loading facilities pack, ice, and load in totes the fish that are caught by commercial fishermen

At the Mount Waddington Regional District meeting on Oct. 15, Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas described the importance and significant role his town plays as a base for off-loading commercially caught fish.

Dugas explained that with just four locally based facilities, Port Hardy has become the largest off-loading centre of its kind on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Off-loading facilities pack, ice, and load in totes the fish caught by commercial fishermen that are then shipped to processors and distributors.

Province-wide, the value of these community based processing facilities can, according to Des Nobels of the Coastal Community Network (CCN), be worth tens of millions of dollars.

What worries both Nobels and Dugas though, is the continued growth of corporate offshore freezer/trawler boats and the resulting decline in locally based off-loading businesses.

Nobels puts the issue in context when he says, “Over the last 20 years most of our coastal communities have lost if not all, then at least 90 per cent of their fish handling and processing capabilities. With that comes the loss of supporting infrastructure and jobs and once that is lost, you are not going to get it back.”

Keeping an intact and functional industry support facility is vital according to Nobels, who explained: “Coastal communities that support and encourage the commercial fisheries go on to generate more jobs and investment along with an expanded tax base that can help pay for all the basic services every town needs.”

The recent House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries has recommended the government look at moving toward more community-based support structures, owner/operator fishers as principals and fleet separation.

If implemented, these recommendations would mean that large companies would no longer be able to hold licences or have controlling agreements. Nobels feels, “It would allow for local fishers to maintain community based fisheries, without being hamstrung by large corporations.”

Alaska implemented a similar and successful community based fisheries program nearly 50 years ago that prioritized fisheries as a prime economic driver for coastal communities. According to Nobels, their small coastal communities are thriving and have benefited greatly from this, with capital investment up, good jobs and a stable industry.

To date, and despite the Standing Committee’s recommendations, Ottawa remains focused on corporate consolidation within the industry. “That’s the track they’ve been on for years,” explains Nobels, adding, “Everything becomes controlled or held by very few.”

Dugas is worried too and has been working with the CNN in an attempt to limit the negative impact of the decisions being made in Ottawa.

He, along with a number of other mayors, are concerned as they see this valuable community-based industry moving away from a local owner/operator model to a corporate enterprise – one with no connection to, or interest, in the community and the people who live there.

The CCN stated it recognizes that local mayors and representatives are the ones that have to take the heat and deal with the fallout and impacts of decisions made by senior governments. In Port Hardy, Dugas is seeing this more and more and states what many no doubt feel. “It has to stop. We have to be heard,” he says. “It is important to us and our voice needs to be heard.”

– Bill McQuarrie article

Just Posted

The river behind the ball field. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Pulled by the flow: river stirs up childhood memories

Gazette editor makes trek through Port Hardy wilderness to swim in the river

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Alert Bay council has decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations. (Alertbay.ca photo)
Alert Bay council cancels Canada Day celebrations

The decision was made in wake of the mass graves being found at former residential schools

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read