The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District is demanding a higher stake in the region’s salmon resources, calling for a return to abandoned policies that protected communities precisely from those such as Canfisco’s closure of Prince Rupert’s salmon cannery.
Vice chair and director of Area A, Des Nobels, wasted no time at the last regular meeting to blame the Jim Pattison Group of simple greed for the hundreds of lost jobs at the Canfisco cannery.
Nobels said the Group owns 75 per cent of the province’s salmon stocks, out of direct quota holdings or agreements with other fishing interests.
“There is more money to be made by Mr. Pattison by moving this plant. But the truth is [salmon stocks are a] common public resource and it really belongs to the people of B.C., not Jimmy Pattison.”
Nobels proposed the district write a letter to the Fisheries minister, expressing their concerns and supporting the union’s position. The aim was to raise the issue of being granted a community development quota.
“That came about in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when a lot of our ground fish was leaving this country and going to the U.S. We were losing all our work here. We went to the government and made the argument that communities had invested significantly in the infrastructure and a range of other things to accommodate these fish that are [a public resource].”
Nobels pointed to a now-dissolved provincial and federal provision that protected communities, the Adjacency and Advertency Clauses, which stipulated 35 to 40 per cent of resources adjacent to a community must be processed there.
“They basically said to us, as communities, that we no longer had a need or a right to exist, because we just hold a resource. Because of that, most of us suffered significantly — particularly in the forestry and fisheries sectors. We lost access. Even though the resource was on our doorstep, we no longer benefited from it.
“What bothers me the most is this town is becoming nothing more than a port, a dirty little port town that you can find anywhere in the world that has no reason to be, except to provide a labour base. But in reality this town has a long history and a wonderful soul that is being lost daily.”
The directors approved the motion to write a letter, but stipulated it be made clear while the district agrees with the union’s position on this matter, is not blindly backing the union.