Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant has reached a significant milestone.
The fish processing plant, owned by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, has reached an annual payroll of $1.5 million, driving success for the village with sustainable income for more than 300 band members.
“This is a landmark for the Lax Kw’alaams,” Robert Hughes, village councillor, said.
“Nearly all of the employment-age band members living at Lax Kw’alaams are now working with the fishery in one form or another. The fishing economy is providing a sustainable way for the band to support itself.”
The fish plant employs approximately 225 workers in the village of Lax Kw’alaams. The fishery also provides employment and skills training for approximately 150 fishing boat crew members in the community.
Hughes said the fish plant has been a win-win for the community.
“The jobs and incomes that the fish plant has generated are empowering community members to in their families, educations and communities. We’re starting to see local businesses flourish thanks to the effects of those incomes,” he said.
The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation spent millions to renovate the village’s old fish plant in 2012, reopening in the spring. Norm Black, the fish plant’s general manager, said about 120 to 125 people were employed at the plant when it first reopened.
“We’re able to handle a great deal more fish than we could before. We’re bringing fish in from all over northern British Columbia, even the central coast and Alaska,” Black said.
“We’ve been growing, and now we’re stable.”
Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece said the success of the fish plant is directly related to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI) program, which provides First Nations with access to commercial fishing licenses.
The program, which was implemented in 2007, provides Lax Kw’alaams and other First Nations with access to commercial fishing licenses. The band flows the licenses to professional harvesters in the community.