About 50 young fishers from coastal B.C. communities and First Nations are expected to attend the BC Young Fishermen’s Gathering to learn about commercial fishing business practices, seafood marketing and sustainable harvesting, thanks to $10,000 in support from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The gathering is the perfect opportunity for young fishers to learn from experienced and successful industry members and be inspired by the energy, ideas and passion of each other,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “Consumers buy B.C. seafood because of the quality product, great flavours and sustainable management practices, and the gathering is helping the next generation of commercial fishery leaders plan their careers to meet that demand.”
"After attending the first gathering, I felt empowered as a brand-new business owner in the commercial fishing industry,” said Christina Smith, who participates in the longline and urchin fisheries with her husband in Bella Coola. “I walked away with a much deeper understanding. The knowledge and connections I gained at the gathering have provided me with confidence as we navigate our way to success.”
The two-day workshop will help prepare new entrants with the skills necessary to be successful harvesters and support the environmental, social and economic sustainability of B.C.’s coastal communities.
The gathering, scheduled to take place in Steveston on Feb. 6 and 7, 2018, aims to:
- Encourage mentorship, apprenticeship and innovation in the fishing industry.
- Facilitate the transfer of knowledge from experienced industry members to new entrants on topics including alternative marketing strategies, marine safety and financing a fishing operation.
- Foster transparency, communication and openness across fisheries professions.
- Develop a basic understanding of fisheries management in B.C.
- Inspire stewardship of ocean resources and encourage environmental sustainability.
- Highlight the rich history and culture of B.C.’s fishing industry.
- Provide a space for young fishers to network and relate to like-minded individuals.
“Going into the second gathering, it is fantastic to see the enthusiasm and energy surrounding this initiative,” said Kiera Vandeborne, the gathering's co-ordinator. “I’m very impressed by the diversity of the individuals and organizations that are stepping up to support the gathering. This speaks to the importance of fishing to British Columbia's culture, and the desire to see it continue and to thrive into the future.”
Details of this year’s gathering, including speakers and registration information, will be available online: https://bcyoungfishermen.ca/
The first annual gathering was held in Victoria in 2017, and brought together more than 30 young fishers with representatives from B.C.’s diverse fishery sector, including salmon, groundfish, tuna, shellfish and sea cucumber fisheries.
In 2016, B.C.’s commercial fishers harvested about 188,000 tonnes of wild fish and shellfish with a wholesale value of $840 million, and the industry employed an estimated 1,500 British Columbians.