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Critique: Sharing The Benefits

This post was originally published to The Fisherman website. More archived The Fisherman blog posts can be found on our Archive Page.

The Union and Native Brotherhood have been calling for a Licensing Policy Review to ensure that license policies support Active Fishermen.

At the same time, others have been working to entrench quota (sharing the benefit) costs into all fisheries.

A small group of people have decided that instead of putting their proposal out to fishermen in a licensing policy review, they have gone directly to DFO with their “Sharing the Benefits” proposal and are actively lobbying for its implementation.

“Sharing the Benefits” Proposal

  • Annually, in preparation of the IFMP (Fishing Plan), a subcommittee made up of license holders, vessel owners and crew would provide consensus advice on what percentage of the landed value would go to the quota/licence holder, the vessel owner and the crew.
  • No vote would be held – the subcommittee recommendation would be published in the annual IFMP for that fishery.
  • If during the fishing season, a participant (crew, vessel owner, or license holder) believes that the division of landed value (% paid) with respect to a specific vessel trip was not consistent with the IFMP, they can register a complaint to an appeals board.
  • The Minister will look at the appeal board’s findings and if they were not followed, the Minister can choose not to re-issue the licence/quota.


The Union has raised serious problems. We have been ignored:

  • The Sharing proposal applies to all fisheries.Even those without quota fees at present.
  • This proposal does not have a method of choosing the sub-committee.Who chooses the vessel owner reps or the crew reps?
  • It does not have a voting mechanism to vote anyone – Neither the vessel owners nor the crews impacted by the ‘consensus advice’ have the right to vote.
  • The appeals board has no teeth –it relies on the Minister to refuse to re-issue quota.We find it hard to believe that this will occur.

A Similar Example

Groundfish trawl crews are supposedly protected by the ‘code of conduct quota’. If a crew member js ripped off, the quota owner could lose 10% of their quota the following year. Sound like effective protection? Not one complaint has been made in the ‘code of conduct’s’ 20 year history. Why? – of course the most common reason is the fear that anyone who complains will face retaliation.

The Union wonders would things be different under the Sharing the Benefits proposal?

The Union’s Executive Board views this proposal as a poor choice. What it does is guarantee the quota owner a percentage of the landed value. However, we understand why it is supported by some desperate fishermen who are already paying exorbitant quota fees.

The Union believes that a ‘Made in BC Owner-Operator / Fleet Separation Policy’ is the answer in most fisheries.

What the UFAWU-Unifor and the NBBC have been working for is an immediate licensing policy review so active fishermen can discuss and vote on what policies will make their fisheries work for them.

All ideas should be discussed, including this Sharing proposal. But all active fishermen should have a chance to develop licencing policy – not a lobby by a few.

For the full proposal - see their presentation to the Seafood Producers Association. Click here for link

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