Forum to tackle fishing issues

Two Prince Rupert environmental groups want to educate the public on the value of fisheries and discuss community-based fisheries management.

Ecotrust Canada and the TBuck Suzuki Foundation are holding Charting Our Own Course: A Forum on Community-Based Management, which will include two presentations, as well as an open roundtable discussion on how community-based fisheries management could provide the region with opportunities.

"The purpose of the event is to provide information to the community regarding fishery issues, and the importance of the fishery to the community," Des Nobles of the TBuck Suzuki Foundation said.

"Everyone is invited. We want to reframe and open up how fisheries are talked about in the community and give people the tools and information to inform themselves. Even if you aren't hauling in a net off your boat, or you work in a fish plant, fisheries in Prince Rupert and on the North Coast is still a very important issue that affects every one of us," Devlin Fernandes, manager of Ecotrust Canada programs, said.

Arthur Bell, fisheries policy analyst with Ecotrust Canada, will be speaking about lessons learned from community-based management in other parts of the country and world. Bell worked on community-based management in the inshore ground fishery in the Bay of Fundy region, and with First Nations in the area in the 1990s.

Nobles, a longtime fisherman and fisheries activist, will also do a presentation on a recent report showing the intrinsic value of fisheries in communities.

The report titled Understanding Values in Canada's North Pacific was published by Ecotrust Canada and the TBuck Suzuki Foundation and focuses on North Coast fisheries, where shipping routes and a number of oil and gas development are being proposed.

The report documents how on top of money generated, commercial fisheries in the area are also a source of other social and cultural values in coastal communities.

"We thought this would be a great opportunity to bring the report out to the broader community and add it into the discussion," Nobles said.

The forum will be taking place at Northwest Community College on Dec. 4 starting at 7 p.m.

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