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NNFC Licence Issue, Dues Chart, Skeena, and More

NNFC Delayed Licences Update

Last week, UFAWU-Unifor staff were made aware of an issue regarding licence wait times facing Northern Native Fishing Corporation harvesters.

On the morning of Monday, July 25, UFAWU-Unifor released a media release to inform the media about this issue:

“Northern Native Fishing Corporation harvesters have been unable to fish due to late licence issuance by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The N.A.G. licences required by NNFC fishers have been “On Hold” since July 13, 2022. As of July 21, 2022, NNFC fish harvesters have missed out on four days of valuable fishing time.

“A commercial or communal commercial Salmon licence (any category A, FA or NAG) is required to commercially harvest Salmon,” DFO’s website says.

Because of this reliance on licences, commercial fish harvesters can be hurt financially by late licences — as can their families and communities.

The uncertainty caused by licence wait times has placed severe and unnecessary stress on NNFC fishers.

NNFC also offers a service to commercial harvesters in renewing their Fishers Registration Cards (FNC). According to NNFC, these registration cards are also being processed slowly.

NNFC says that these wait times are “unacceptable” and UFAWU-Unifor agrees.

This issue must be resolved quickly to prevent any further loss of income and unnecessary stress.”

The issue saw media attention and the licences were issued.

However, NNFC harvesters lost a total of five salmon harvest days due to the delay.

The stress and loss of income caused by this ordeal are unacceptable.

JS/Fraser Sox Fishery Industry Meeting. July 29

On July 29, 2022, DFO held the first Fraser River Commercial Fishery meeting for the 2022 season. 

The main topics of conversation were the latest on the latest Fraser Panel updates and the current outlook for the 2022 Fraser Sockeye season.

The main issue that the commercial fleets are looking at is a predicted late run timing for Early Summer sockeye, leading to overlap with the Summer and Late Summer stocks run timing/returns.

At the current modelling and predicted run size there is no commercial TAC from the Early Summer sockeye stocks, meaning DFO won’t let us fish on them. 

Because we can’t do catch and release for mixed-stock sockeye runs, this also means that DFO won’t let us harvest the Summer stocks that we do have TAC for while there are Early Summers in the mix. 

Essentially, the current model for commercial fishery planning won’t have the fleets in the water until much later than with normal run timing — which would mean we would fish “harder, later”.

We have been told by DFO managers to keep in mind that it is still early and that nothing is written in stone yet but the current modelled start dates for Fraser River sockeye commercial fisheries are as follows:

  • Area B Seine: Area 12/13, Aug 20th start date; Area 29, Sept 1st start date
  • Area H Troll: Area 12/13, Aug 20th start date; Area 29, Sept 1st start date
  • Area D Gillnet: Area 12/13, Aug 18th start date
  • Area E Gillnet: Area 29, Aug 24th start date

We are also constrained on fishing time on the back-end with the Steelhead rolling window closure start dates: Area B & D: Area 12 Sept 5th, Area 13 Sept 9; Area H: Area 12 Sept 12, Area 13 Sept 17; Area B & Area E: Area 29 Sept 16, Area 20 Sept 20. 

And, there are also possible fishing time constraints with Late sockeye runs. However, we haven’t been able to get an answer on this. 

As things stand now, the model is predicting that commercial catch will be half of the total commercial TAC available due to fishing time constraints.

The “encouraging signs” are that the bulk of Early Starts and “Early-timed Early Summers” are showing up at higher than predicted numbers. And if we get a higher than predicted run-size that would provide some commercial TAC for Early Summers.

There have also been reports of large numbers of Pink in Area 12 and we have been seeing a good showing of Pinks in the test fisheries and in EVI streams. Counts have also just started in the Broughton so we should know what the returns are looking like there soon as well.

Dues Chart Update

The UFAWU-Unifor Dues Page has been updated with an improved dues chart.

The UFAWU-Unifor dues chart is used to calculate the minimum amount using a variable rate system.

With a variable rate, the amount that a harvester pays depends on their total insurable earnings.

Lower-earning members pay less in dues, while higher-earning members pay more in dues.

Harvesters may estimate their income preseason and pay according to the Minimum Dues Chart cart below. If your end-of-season ROEs show more was made than the initial estimate, please pay the difference.

Click here to see the updated dues chart.

Skeena Update

The 2.5 cent/pound gillnet assessment to cover north coast Catch Monitoring costs was accepted. 

Over 60% of the gillnet fleet fishing the Skeena voted with 91% in favour. At-sea observers will be observing one full set (first cork in, to last cork out).

So far, observers have been out one day and observed sets in 4-12 in the Kitson-Smith area. 

130 sockeye, 19 pinks, and 3 chum were caught (no coho & no steelhead). 

All the chum were released in good shape — none were bleeding. 100% survival rate so far. Great work!

Less happily, the Skeena sockeye run is half over. 

The run size is estimated to be around 3 million and at this size, the net fleet is allowed to harvest 30% or 900,000 sockeye. Of this, 25% or 675,000 sockeye is the gillnet TAC. 

So far gillnetters have only caught 168,469, for a harvest rate of 11% on the run so far. Effort — July 15/16 — 91 vessels fished, July 19/20 — 113 vessels fished and July 22/23 — 125 gillnetters fished.

We do not yet have the data for seines.

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