Press Centre

Valuing Fisheries in Canada’s North Pacific

A ground breaking new study reveals that BC’s commercial fishing grounds are far richer than previously thought. Focusing on the province’s North Coast fisheries — covering a vast, remote region under increasing scrutiny due to proposed shipping routes and oil and gas development — the report documents how in addition to generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the region’s commercial fisheries are the source of a much larger set of social and cultural values in coastal communities.

“The role commercial fisheries play in the formal economy is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Kerrie O’Donnell, lead author of the study. “The commercial fishing industry acts like a great connector, linking people to each other, to their communities and to their sense of place. Our study demonstrates that much of the social and cultural fabric of local communities is rooted in commercial fishing. While these values may seem intangible, they are powerful because they strengthen local economies, improve social well-being, and set the foundation for successful collective activities like resource management.”

Titled Understanding Values in Canada’s North Pacific, the report is jointly published by Ecotrust Canada and the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, two BC-based nonprofits that frequently work with the commercial fishing sector. Researchers conducted intensive interviews of fishermen and reviewed past socio-economic studies to identify core tangible and intangible values in small communities. The report goes above and beyond the typical analyses of income and revenues, painting a more comprehensive picture of the province’s fisheries than ever before.

Jim McIsaac, Director of Sustainability with the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, says “the study exposes the complex nature of the relationships built through the commercial fishery. This network connects the region’s social and ecological systems, bringing much more than food and income into our coastal communities.. These values must be protected in fisheries decision making and in the broader marine-use policies of our governments.”

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