EVALUATION OF THE ATLANTIC INTEGRATED
COMMERCIAL FISHERIES INITIATIVE (AICFI)

6B176
FINAL REPORT
AUGUST 13, 2015

EVALUATION DIRECTORATE


Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND ACRONYMS


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The Evaluation Directorate acknowledges all individuals who provided input for this evaluation of the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative. We thank all key informants who took the time to speak with the evaluation team during site visits, group discussion sessions, and in-person or telephone interviews. The evaluation team is particularly grateful to everyone who helped organize visits to a selection of participating First Nations and to the fisheries coordinators who welcomed the team into their communities.

ACRONYMS


List of acronyms
AAROM Aboriginal Aquatic Resources and Ocean Management
AICFI Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative
CFE Commercial Fisheries Enterprise
DFO Fisheries and Oceans Canada
MMFN Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nation

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


INTRODUCTION

This report covers an evaluation of the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (AICFI), an initiative by Fisheries and Ocean Canada (DFO) to support the development of sustainable commercial fisheries enterprises in Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. Of 34 eligible First Nations in the Gaspé, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, 32 have participated in AICFI.

Launched in 2007, AICFI underwent an initial evaluation in 2009-10. The present study, conducted by the DFO Evaluation Directorate, covers a 5-year period from 2010-11 to 2014-15. In accordance with Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation, the study examines the continuing relevance of AICFI, the effectiveness of the program in achieving desired results, and the efficiency and economy of its delivery.

AICFI was initially a five-year $55.1M program (2007-2012). Budget 2012 provided a one-year $11.02M extension, which was renewed in 2013 for $11.02M and further extended for 2014 and 2015 at $11.02M per year.

EVALUATION METHODOLOGY

A small-scale evaluation was considered appropriate because the 2009 evaluation of AICFI had been positive and extensive data on performance indicators for subsequent years was available.

Data collection involved site visits to five First Nations, two group discussions and 14 in-person or telephone interviews. Information was also obtained from AICFI program files and databases, related documents and Internet postings.

EVALUATION FINDINGS

Relevance

There is a continuing need for the services and resources provided to First Nations through AICFI. The type and extent of need varies from one First Nation to the next depending on community size, availability of commercial fisheries management capacity, access to various marine species, vessels and equipment, experience of captains and fishers, and a wide range of other variables. At this time, the commercial fisheries enterprises of many of the eligible First Nations do not have the business capacity needed for long-term sustainability. According to an in-depth annual assessment by AICFI personnel, many do not currently have the capacity to sustain a major setback such as a drastic reduction in allowable catch, severe drop in market prices or loss of their Fisheries Coordinator.

By supporting the development of sustainable commercial fisheries enterprises, AICFI helps attain DFO’s desired strategic outcome of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries. AICFI also aims to increase the participation of First Nations in the stewardship of the Atlantic Fishery and thus contributes to the DFO strategic outcome of sustainable aquatic ecosystems.

From a government-wide perspective, AICFI fits closely with the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development.1 In line with the goals of the Federal Framework, AICFI is helping to strengthen aboriginal entrepreneurship, enhance the value of aboriginal assets, forge new and effective partnerships to maximize economic development opportunities, and develop aboriginal human capital.


1 https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100033498/1100100033499

Effectiveness

The Initiative is effective as a means of maintaining and enhancing past investments in Mi’kmaq and Maliseet commercial fisheries enterprises. Program data reflect a gradual but steady overall development of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations business management capacity over the past five years. The rate and extent of the growth in capacity varies among the participating First Nations, for a wide variety of reasons. However, for most communities, steady progress has been recorded. The First Nations fisheries managers that were consulted during this study attribute high importance to AICFI in the development of their commercial fisheries enterprise.

AICFI’s Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators help facilitate participation of First Nations in management of the Atlantic Fishery. At this stage, First Nation participation primarily means keeping informed about fishery management issues, providing input where appropriate and participating in local conservation measures.

Efficiency and economy

Evidence suggests that AICFI is efficiently and economically delivered. The percentage of administrative costs relative to total expenditures has averaged 10.6% over the five years examined. This percentage is minimal given that it involves not only the administration of contribution funding but also the coordination of five distinct programming objectives and the maintaining of critical partnerships with First Nations organizations.

CONCLUSIONS

AICFI is a relevant and well performing program. Evidence gathered as part of this evaluation shows that the program has effectively assisted 32 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations communities in the Gaspé, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in strengthening their capacity to manage, expand and diversify their commercial fisheries enterprises. As of 2014, seven of the 32 participating First Nations commercial fisheries enterprises had been assessed by AICFI management as having become sustainable.

The need for all components of AICFI programming continues to exist, as a majority of the commercial fisheries enterprises of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations, while demonstrating growth in capacity, are not yet self-sustainable. There is great variation in the type, level and timing of needs across the First Nations for development of their commercial fisheries enterprises and AICFI has the flexibility to respond appropriately. The program also remains clearly aligned with the Departmental strategic outcome of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries as well as with the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development.

In light of the program’s demonstrated success, a number of lessons learned and best practices were identified that may inform the design of future similar initiatives.

RECOMMENDATION

AICFI management has in recent times attempted to reduce support for enterprises that have been deemed sustainable. Reduction of AICFI support elicited strong reactions from many of the affected First Nations and the opinion was advanced that they were being penalized for having developed resilient commercial fisheries enterprises. Eventually compromises were reached between AICFI management and the affected First Nations. However, a clear and mutually understood process to make the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant has yet to be established.

AICFI senior management should develop, in consultation with participating First Nations and key stakeholders, a clear, staged process to assist participating commercial fisheries enterprises in making the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant.

1. INTRODUCTION


1.1 PURPOSE OF THE EVALUATION

This report presents the results of an evaluation of the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (AICFI) launched by DFO in 2007. The Initiative underwent an initial evaluation in 2009-10. The present study of AICFI, covering the period 2010-11 to 2014-15, responds to a requirement of the Financial Administration Act that all ongoing programs of grants and contributions be evaluated at least once every five years. In accordance with requirements of the Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation, the evaluation team examined the continuing relevance of AICFI and the effectiveness of the program in achieving desired results. It also assessed the efficiency and economy of program delivery.

1.2 PARAMETERS

AICFI is intended to support the development of sustainable commercial fisheries enterprises in Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. Of 34 eligible First Nations in the Gaspé, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, 32 have participated in AICFI.

The Initiative is managed by the Aboriginal Affairs Directorate within the Ecosystems and Fisheries Management Sector at DFO headquarters in Ottawa with some assistance from the Quebec, Gulf and Maritime Regions. Program services are primarily delivered through contracts with Atlantic-based professionals and organizations.

AICFI is funded at a level of approximately $11M per year. Funding has been committed up to the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The present evaluation study was conducted from January to June 2015.

1.3 REPORT STRUCTURE

The Executive Summary of the report provides an overview of the evaluation’s purpose, methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations. An introductory section (this present section) provides the context of the evaluation study and outline of the report. Section 2 presents information on the AICFI program and Section 3 describes the evaluation methodology. Evaluation findings are presented in Section 4; conclusions and recommendations follow in Section 5. Annexes provide complementary information.

2. PROGRAM PROFILE


2.1 MANDATE

As stated in the 2011 version of the AICFI Governance Charter, “AICFI is carried out under the [DFO] Integrated Aboriginal Contribution Management Framework and its corresponding Terms and Conditions approved by Treasury Board in March 2009.”

2.2 ACTIVITIES

There are two streams of activity in the AICFI program mechanism. A main activity stream aims to increase the economic sustainability of the commercial fisheries enterprise in each participating First Nations community. A secondary stream aims to promote First Nation participation in the DFO-led process for managing the Atlantic Fishery. Activities involve partnering with the Secretariat of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and other First Nations organizations.

A detailed breakdown of the program’s components is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: AICFI Program Components

Figure 1
Component Name Purpose
1 – Enterprise Governance Enhancement To document/revise existing commercial fisheries enterprise governance structure
2 – Management Practice Enhancement  
2.1 – Business Plan Preparation or Upgrading To prepare and implement an AICFI commercial fisheries business development plan, specific to each community, that will help build a successful commercial fisheries business
2.2 – Fisheries Management System Implementation To take an enhanced role in commercial fisheries development and capacity building through implementation of and training on the Fisheries Management System
2.3 – Implementation of AICFI Commercial Fisheries Business Development Plan To implement the AICFI commercial fisheries business development plan and to operate a successful commercial fishery for the long term through increasing the community’s knowledge and skills base
2.4 – In-class Training/At-sea Mentoring To make best use of existing access to get maximum economic benefit including job creation using training and mentoring to improve operational effectiveness, increase skills and knowledge needed to fish effectively, and improve safety practices
3 – Co-management Capacity Building To help AAROM bodies get fishing industry information in a timely manner so they can assist their member communities to participate collectively on an equal footing with other stakeholders at fisheries advisory and other related meetings
4 – Commercial Fisheries Diversification To provide some limited funds to participating communities for fishing vessel and equipment improvements and other development costs

The first stream of activities, focused on building business management capacity for sustainable fishing enterprises, aims to support effective enterprise governance, management, planning, operational strength, diversification and growth.

A primary activity in this stream might be called “providing business advice and guidance”. It is currently delivered by a team of four individuals with experience in commercial fisheries enterprise development. When First Nations enter the AICFI program, this Business Development Team works with them to ensure they have a solid business plan that sets out the governance of the commercial fisheries enterprise and plans for operation and development. As the commercial fisheries enterprise evolves, and the fisheries coordinator encounters new challenges, advice from the Business Development Team is available by telephone, email or face-to-face meeting.

Once a First Nation has a business plan and viable governance system in place for its commercial fisheries enterprise, it becomes eligible for benefits from an activity that might be called “providing funding for management expertise”. The First Nation may apply for funding to help offset salary costs for its fisheries coordinator and for an assistant to help manage the record keeping and other administrative requirements of the enterprise.

A “training activity” includes the provision of advice to First Nations by two senior fisheries educators on how to identify the training needs of fisheries personnel, on requirements for specific certifications, and on available courses and training providers. AICFI also provides funding to assist First Nations in covering the costs of training in management, safety, navigation, vessel maintenance and other areas related to the operation of a commercial fisheries enterprise.

The provision of direct support for material infrastructure to help the First Nations achieve sustainable commercial fisheries enterprises might be called the “material maintenance, expansion and diversification activity”. First Nations, after having reached a defined level of management capacity that includes having a fisheries management system in place, may put forward proposals for infrastructure that is clearly related to realization of the business plan for their commercial fishery. Proposals might be for vessels, equipment, acquisition of additional access (licences and quota), shore-based facilities such as storage sheds, temporary accommodation for fishers, holding tanks for lobster, and other essential enterprise-related material.

The review of proposals from First Nations for contributions from DFO involves several checks and balances. After review by the Business Development Team they are examined by a Third Party Evaluator who works under contract with DFO to ensure that proposals are well documented, justified, and logically connected to the First Nation’s business plan for the commercial fishery. Then the proposals are examined by an Application Review Board comprised of three members, including at least two First Nation members, with broad economic development experience. The Executive Director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and the AICFI Program Authority at DFO attend as ex-officio members and provide Secretariat support. The Application Review Board provides recommendations to DFO with respect to each contribution proposal.

In addition to the stream of activities focused on capacity building in commercial fisheries management, a secondary stream that might be called “fisheries resource stewardship” aims to foster First Nation participation in DFO’s Atlantic Fishery management process. AICFI provides funding for six Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators who attend relevant fishery management meetings and keep First Nations informed of discussions that have taken place, decisions that were taken, and emerging issues in which the First Nations may wish to become involved. The Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators may also facilitate the involvement of First Nations in a fishery management issue that affects their communities. First Nation input to the issue might be by an e-mail campaign, activation of communication networks, or in-person participation at meetings where the issue is to be discussed.

Five of the Coordinators have a mandate to assist First Nations in particular watershed, ecosystem or geographic areas. The other Coordinator, based at the Secretariat of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, serves as a central link.

The Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators are associated with Aboriginal Resources and Ocean Management (AAROM) organizations that are funded by DFO through a program of the same name. DFO support for the Coordinators flows through the AAROM organization. Affiliation with these organizations, whose mandates include environmental stewardship, means that the Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators are able to keep First Nations communities informed of conservation activities and opportunities to contribute to them.

2.3 EXPECTED RESULTS

The expected results for the program are set out in the AICFI Governance Charter in general terms, under AICFI Goals, and more specifically, under Target Outcomes. The objectives for AICFI as stated in the Governance Charter are as follows:

  1. Maintain and secure the significant investment made in existing fisheries assets attained through the Marshall Response Initiative;
  2. Further develop the governance, management, administrative and operations capacity of MMFN commercial fisheries enterprises (CFEs) to enable MMFNs to operate successfully and effectively participate in the integrated commercial fishery;
  3. Enhance the ability of MMFNs to participate in the co-management of the integrated commercial fishery;
  4. Assist MMFNs, primarily through Aboriginal Bodies, to assume greater responsibility for their ongoing training/mentoring and other capacity building activities covered in the program; and,
  5. Help diversify existing fishing enterprises through the establishment of a “Commercial Fisheries Diversification Opportunities Source.

The Target Outcomes for AICFI as stated in the Governance Charter are:

  • Sound (transparent and accountable) CFE governance structures;
  • Sound business management processes for CFE management and operation;
  • A Fisheries Coordinator mentored in areas of expertise required to meet the commercial fisheries business management needs of the community;
  • Fishing skills acquired through at-sea mentoring or in-class training;
  • Fisheries Management System (FMS) in place for interested, eligible MMFNs;
  • Greater involvement by MMFNs in fisheries co-management; and
  • Increased ability by MMFNs to optimize existing access and achieve CFE profitability and sustainability.

2.4 LOGIC MODEL AND PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT

Program Logic

The evaluation team examined various published models of the logic underlying AICFI. While existing models may have been useful in other situations, the team found that they did not provide a solid foundation for the current study.

A main concern was that the activities section of the existing models tended to focus on program components and the requirements for accessing a component rather than on actual program activities.

Other issues with existing models included the lack of specificity of logical linkages and the intertwining of economic development for the First Nations enterprises with the participation of First Nations in the DFO-led process for managing the Atlantic Fishery. While participation in DFO’s fishery management process can contribute to economic development, for example, by giving managers of commercial fisheries enterprises early warning of likely changes to fish quotas, it seemed to the evaluation team that a clear separation of the economic development and fishery resource management dimensions helped clarify the program logic.

A simplified model, developed by the evaluation team, is attached as Annex A.

Program Performance Measurement

A section in the AICFI Governance Charter on performance management states the following:

“Ongoing program performance management measures will be defined through common IACMF [Integrated Aboriginal Contributions Management Framework] performance indicators as well as management indicators specific to the AICFI Program. The requisite performance data captured and entered at the Regional and Area levels will be housed in the APGIS [Aboriginal Programs and Governance Information System] and at NHQ [National Headquarters] to support ongoing performance analysis and senior management reporting. Where appropriate, regional management information systems will interface directly with the APGIS for direct data transfer or uploads.

“AICFI regions will be required to report on achievements as per the annual SADM SLA [Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Service Level Agreements]".

In addition, to support the achievement of expected results AICFI developed a process for capturing and analyzing performance data. Several key indicators of performance, both quantitative and qualitative, were identified and are regularly reported on by AICFI management. Quantitative performance indicators include, for example, number of contribution agreements signed or the number of community members trained in fishery related skills. These indicators provide a basic indication of performance in terms of capacity of each commercial fisheries enterprise to effectively participate in the commercial fishery.

AICFI also developed a qualitative methodology to assess each commercial fisheries enterprise against a series of criteria designed to capture both the degree to which they have built the capacity to participate in the fishery and the extent to which this capacity is utilized. The assessment criteria are tailored to take into account the size of the enterprise (Small, Medium or Large).  The factors that are considered in the assessments of commercial fisheries enterprises include, for example, clarity and application of governance structures, level of formal business planning undertaken, business plan implementation, and use of the Fisheries Management System to support operational planning and reporting.

2.5 STAKEHOLDERS

DFO managers

Key stakeholders in DFO include the Director General of Aboriginal Affairs and the Director of AICFI at National Headquarters. Managers responsible for coordination and monitoring of AICFI in the Quebec, Gulf and Maritimes regions also have a stake in the program.

Principal program partner

The Secretariat of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, based in Dartmouth Nova Scotia and headed by an Executive Director, has been instrumental in facilitating the structure for direct provision of AICFI services to participating First Nations.

First Nations

The 32 First Nations that participate in AICFI are based in the Gaspé, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and Mainland Nova Scotia. There are Mi’kmaq communities in all of the above-mentioned locations. The Maliseet communities are in the Gaspé and New Brunswick. The population of individual bands ranges from over 4,000 to under 125 persons, with an average of about 1,050. The size of the First Nations’ commercial fishing fleet varies accordingly; some have many vessels while others have only a few. The main AICFI stakeholder in a First Nation would be the fisheries manager. Other stakeholders would include the Band Manager, the Chief and Council.

AICFI service providers

The Business Development Team, comprised of a leader based in Dartmouth and three business development advisors, has a stake in the program. Other stakeholders include the two fisheries training advisors, based in Pictou and Caraquet, the six commercial fisheries liaison coordinators that are based throughout the area served by AICFI, and the Third Party Evaluator, based in Prince Edward Island.

2.6 GOVERNANCE

The control structure for the program is specified in the AICFI governance charter. In that document detailed charts accompany the text.2

National Headquarters

“The Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management, is responsible and accountable to provide AICFI policy and program direction through the Director General of Aboriginal Programs and Governance. The latter is responsible for developing AICFI policy and program design and will provide ongoing advice to the Senior Management Aboriginal Policy Committee and the Regional Directors General of Maritimes, Gulf and Quebec.”

“The Director General, Aboriginal Programs and Governance, will be supported by the Director of AICFI who will chair an AICFI Working Group and provide ongoing functional program direction through policy coordination, liaison and advice to Regional Directors of Ecosystem and Fisheries Management, Regional Aboriginal Coordinators and Area Directors as may be required [-].”

“Aboriginal Programs and Governance is responsible for decisions pertaining to recipient funding as well as performance measurement data gathering and reporting. Negotiation of the terms and conditions of AICFI agreements with Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nation Bands or Aboriginal Bodies is the responsibility of representatives of Aboriginal Programs and Governance, National Headquarters.”

Regions

“The Regional Directors General, Maritimes, Gulf and Quebec Regions will be accountable to the Deputy Minister for AICFI program delivery at the regional level under the direction of the Senior Management Aboriginal Policy Committee on the advice of the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management and the Director General Aboriginal Programs and Governance.”

“Responsibility for performance measurement of AICFI is shared between Aboriginal Programs and Governance and the Regions where AICFI is offered. Regions have shared responsibilities for some aspects of performance measurement data gathering where it would not be practical to do so from National Headquarters. This regional involvement is restricted to the Directors/Managers of Aboriginal Affairs, Area Aboriginal Coordinators, and Regional Directors Ecosystems and Fisheries Management.”

Area Offices

“Area Offices are responsible for day-to-day delivery of the AICFI Program in the context of their ongoing responsibilities for the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and program delivery of the Aboriginal Aquatic Resources and Oceans Management program. Specifics on Area Office roles will be included in regionally-tailored Service Level Agreements between the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Ecosystems and Fisheries Management and the Regional Director of each Region in which AICFI is offered.”


2 The terminology for some of the DFO positions referred to in the text may have changed since the AICFI Program Governance Charter was written. However, the relationships remain as described therein.

2.7 RESOURCES

AICFI was initially a five-year $55.1M program (2007-2012). Budget 2012 provided a one-year $11.02M extension, which was renewed in 2013 for $11.02M and further extended for 2014 and 2015 at a cost of $11.02M per year.

The following tables present program expenditures and full time equivalents by fiscal year, for the period of 2010-2011 to 2014-2015.

Table 1: Total Program Expenditures

Table 1
  2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
G&C $12,358,078 $7,838,090 $9,526,381 $8,980,508 $10,442,371
O&M $755,779 $795,105 $689,262 $730,286 $813,173
Salary $324,570 $391,206 $423,607 $370,070 $418,299
Total $13,438,427 $9,024,401 $10,639,250 $10,080,864 $11,673,843

Table 2: AICFI Full Time Equivalents

Table 2
  2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
FTEs 4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

3. EVALUATION METHODOLOGY


3.1 SCOPE

In determining the scope of the evaluation, the Evaluation Directorate took into account the positive assessment of AICFI in 2009, the availability of extensive performance measurement data, and the low risk of negative outcomes. A small-scale evaluation approach was deemed appropriate. This approach, which the Directorate has developed, tested and implemented for past evaluations, is rigorous and makes efficient use of data from multiple lines of evidence.

The study was conducted by a team from the DFO Evaluation Directorate comprised of an evaluation project manager, and two evaluators, including a program evaluation specialist who had been engaged specifically to assist with the project. The project manager reported to the DFO Director of Evaluation.

AICFI management provided essential assistance for the evaluation by identifying major documents, making themselves available for discussions, helping arrange participation of some key First Nations informants, and reviewing draft reports.

All generic issues to be considered in evaluations of federal programs were addressed. As set out in the Treasury Board Policy on Evaluation these core issues are program relevance and program performance, where performance includes effectiveness, efficiency and economy.

3.2 EVALUATION APPROACH AND DESIGN

The general approach was to identify evaluation issues, articulate relevant questions, collect data, analyse the results, and develop conclusions and recommendations.

First, a clear understanding of AICFI was sought through examining program documents. The team then met with AICFI managers for further orientation to the program. Next, the theory underlying the program was explored, leading to a simplified program logic model. Then, bearing in mind the program theory, the evaluation issues, and the specific focus of the study, the evaluation team identified 25 questions that the study should attempt to answer. Sources of information were identified and appropriate data collection instruments developed. Annex B, the AICFI Evaluation Matrix, presents the issues, the evaluation questions, and data collection methods.

3.3 DATA COLLECTION

The evaluation used the following methods to collect data: key informant interviews; group discussions; site visits; analysis of administrative data; and, documents review. All informants were assured that any data or opinion that they provided would not be attributed to them in the evaluation report.

3.3.1  Key informant interviews

A total of 14 interviews were conducted, either by phone or in person, with the following categories of key informants:

  • National Headquarters AICFI staff
  • Regional AICFI staff and contractors
  • Secretariat of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs
  • Training Advisory Committee members
  • Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators

3.3.2  Group discussions

There were two group discussions, one in Ottawa, with four DFO personnel involved in the administration of AICFI, and one in Dartmouth, with the leader and two members of the Business Development Team. The discussions, each lasting about one and a half hours, focused on participants’ roles in AICFI and their insights into variables that facilitate program take-up and use by First Nations communities.

Group discussions enabled input from a total of seven (7) individuals.

3.3.3  Visits to First Nations communities

The evaluation included site visits to five First Nations communities. The team strived to make the sample reasonably representative. It included communities with small, medium and large commercial fisheries enterprises. Geographic coverage took in mainland Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. There were both Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities in the sample. Although the sample did not include a First Nation from the Gaspé, one of the communities that were visited included both French and English speakers. The five communities are the following:

  • Annapolis Valley First Nation is located near Cambridge, Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy. It has a population of about 272 and a commercial fisheries enterprise that is considered small by the working definition of enterprise size that is used by AICFI.3
  • Wagmatcook First Nation is located in Cape Breton Island on the west shore of Bras d’or Lake. It has a population of 1,124 and a large commercial fisheries enterprise.
  • Abegweit First Nation unites three communities on Prince Edward Island. Its main office in about a 25-minute drive east of Charlottetown. The First Nation has a population of about 324 and a medium sized commercial fisheries enterprise.
  • Buctouche First Nation is in New Brunswick near the Gulf of St Lawrence, about 45 minutes north of Moncton. It has a population of about 100 and a small commercial fisheries enterprise.
  • Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is in Edmundston, New Brunswick, not far from the border with Quebec and very close to the Maine border. It has a population of about 349 and a small commercial fisheries enterprise that is about a five-hour drive away on the Bay de Chaleur.

Visits to communities involved discussions with a total of eight (8) informants.

When key informant interviews, group discussions and site visits are considered, the study involved direct input from a total of 26 informants.

3.3.4  Review of documents and other data sources

Directly relevant documents and data files were provided to the evaluation team by AICFI personnel. Additional input was obtained from documents, web sites and videos posted on the Internet. A total of 81 information sources were located and a summary of key points was prepared for 74 of them. The main sources included the following: government program descriptions, audits, evaluations and Royal Commissions; and, documents from Atlantic First Nations, and videos about native history, culture, fishing and conflicts. Other sources included reports from consultants, summaries of major conferences, documents on fishing techniques, reports on specific Atlantic aquatic species, and surveys by Statistics Canada and other organizations.


3 All population data is from AICFI files and is dated January 2014. AICFI has defined commercial fisheries size according to the total landed value of their catch in 2007. A small commercial fishery had a landed catch of less than $1M. A medium sized commercial fishery had a landed catch of between $1M and $2M. A large commercial fishery was one with a landed catch that exceeded $2M.

3.4 ANALYTICAL METHODS

Analysis of qualitative data involved transcribing notes from interviews, organizing texts and then extracting general themes and specific messages with respect to a given question. Quantitative analysis involved extracting and crosschecking data and calculating summary statistics.

3.5 LIMITATIONS AND MITIGATION STRATEGIES

The study had limited direct input from Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. The evaluation team, constrained by time and travel budget, was able to visit only five of the 32 participating communities. That is, there was direct input from only 16% of the communities participating in AICFI.

The team had considered but rejected the idea of a survey of all participating First Nations. Two recent studies of the Atlantic First Nations had reported low response rates to surveys. Also, the literature on evaluation of programming for First Nations indicated that in-person data collecting would be more appropriate than reliance on questionnaires.

The main strategy to mitigate the limited input from First Nations was to ensure that informants who had frequent direct contact with them were asked about variation among communities that appeared to affect program take-up and effectiveness. The relevant questioning was addressed to members of the Business Development Team, the Training Advisors and the Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators; all have regular face-to-face, email and telephone communication with First Nations communities, particularly with the person responsible for fisheries. Other informants too could offer a cross-community perspective on the program. The Executive Director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and its Director of Fisheries, the Director of AICFI and the program staff, had broad experience with the participating First Nations.

4. MAJOR FINDINGS


Findings are organized by core issue and, within them, by specific AICFI evaluation issue and questions.

4.1 RELEVANCE

The relevance of AICFI was examined under the following three topics: ongoing need for the program; alignment with government priorities; and alignment with federal roles and responsibilities.

4.1.1  Ongoing need for the program


Key Finding
The need for all components of AICFI programming continues to exist. Many of the commercial fisheries enterprises of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations, while demonstrating growth in capacity, are not yet self-sustainable. There is great variation in the type, level and timing of needs across the First Nations for development of their commercial fisheries enterprises and AICFI has the flexibility to respond appropriately.

The Department’s need for AICFI was explored with the following questions. Has the need for the program evolved over time? What aspects of the programming are currently most needed by DFO? What is the variation in need among the 32 First Nations that participate in the programming? What aspects of the programming are perceived by First Nations as responding to their needs? Are positive results likely to be sustained if AICFI ends in 2016?

Has the need for the program evolved over time?

The need for DFO to maintain earlier federal investments in the First Nations’ for commercial fisheries enterprises has not changed significantly since the program was launched in 2007. An important aim of AICFI is to help the commercial fisheries enterprises become self-sustaining, thus virtually eliminating the risk that past investments might be lost through the demise of enterprises that do not have the capacity to survive falling market prices, quota reductions, new regulations requiring vessel upgrades, or the full range of other challenges that may arise.

AICFI has determined that, in 2014, the commercial fisheries enterprises of seven of the 34 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities meet the conditions clearly defined by AICFI as indicating sustainability. There thus at that time remained 27 First Nations whose commercial fisheries enterprises represented, to varying degrees, a risk that past federal investments might not yield the desired positive benefits.

What aspects of the programming are currently most needed by DFO?

Several sources indicated that the various components of AICFI all contribute to the program’s positive effects. The provision of advice and support on business development, advice on the training of fisheries personnel, and updating on fishery resource management issues, along with direct contribution to well-planned upgrades to fleet and to improving to access to species fished, all work together to gradually move the First Nations enterprises to self-sustainability.

What is the variation in need among the 32 First Nations that participate in the programming?

The study revealed great variation in the circumstances of participating First Nation communities in terms of population, institutions, sources of revenue and current capacity of commercial fisheries enterprises. Different constellations of these and other variables lead to different needs. Focusing specifically on commercial fisheries enterprises, the evaluation found differences in need with respect to business support, data systems assistance, training, fleet maintenance or expansion, and access to additional species or more quota for species already fished.

What aspects of the programming are perceived by First Nations as responding to their needs?

As might be expected, variation in First Nations’ needs was reflected in their perception of the responsiveness of various components. Generally, direct contributions were perceived as highly important and responsive to specific needs be they additional access, vessels, repairs, temporary shore-side accommodation, storage compounds or holding facilities. Support for training too was highly valued. Conversations during the five site visits suggested that the advisory services provided by AICFI were perceived as less important than direct financial contributions. However, advisors appeared to be well liked and were considered helpful. In two of the five site visits, it was clear that the First Nation informants recognized the interdependence of advice and direct financial support.

They appeared to appreciate that the various AICFI activities combined harmoniously and flexibly to respond to the variation in need across First Nations communities.

Are positive results likely to be sustained if AICFI ends in 2016?

As backdrop, one key informant emphasized that a large proportion of First Nation communities have not reached the AICFI-defined level of business capacity that indicates sustainability. As Figure 2 illustrates, by the end of the period covered by this evaluation, only seven of 32 participating First Nations had a business capacity rating that indicated sustainability. Estimates from various informants about the number that might be sustainable as of early 2016 indicate that the commercial fisheries enterprises of 9 to 14 participating First Nations communities may have reached sustainability. The speculated data on sustainable enterprises would suggest that, by the end of the current funding period for AICFI, the remaining 18 to 23 commercial fisheries enterprises in participating First Nations communities would not have reached AICFI’s sustainable business capacity level.

Figure 2 - Growth in Sustainable First Nations Commercial Fisheries Enterprises

Sustainable First Nation Commercial Fisheries

Informants offered a variety of opinion about the impact that discontinuing AICFI might have on the commercial fisheries enterprises of the First Nations that are unlikely to have achieved a sustainability rating on the AICFI business capacity scale by 2016. Some informants predicted that the First Nation’s business capacity would regress. Some predicted that it would tend to remain at current levels. Some predicted that it would continue to grow, but at a slower rate than if supported by AICFI.

Of the five commercial fisheries enterprises in First Nations that were site-visited by the evaluation team, one is already rated at the sustainable level. Thus the team had direct contact with a sample of four of the 18 to 23 commercial fisheries enterprises that are not currently rated as sustainable. Of the four fisheries coordinators involved, two inferred that their commercial fisheries enterprise would likely backslide without AICFI support and the other two inferred that it would likely remain at its current level.

4.1.2  Alignment with Government Priorities


Key Finding
AICFI aligns with DFO and federal government objectives.

The alignment of the program with government priorities was addressed through the following question: Does the programming continue to align with strategic outcomes identified for DFO and the government of Canada?

Does the programming continue to align with the strategic outcomes identified for DFO and the government of Canada?

AICFI’s activities in support of commercial fisheries enterprises in Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations clearly aligns with the DFO desired strategic outcome of “economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries.” Program activities that aim to facilitate First Nation participation in management of the Atlantic Fishery contribute to the DFO desired strategic outcome of “sustainable aquatic ecosystems.”

At a government-wide level, AICFI fits closely with the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. In line with the goals of the Framework, AICFI is helping to strengthen aboriginal entrepreneurship, enhance the value of aboriginal assets, forge new and effective partnerships to maximize economic development opportunities, and develop aboriginal human capital.

4.1.3  Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities


Key Finding
There are no alternative program mechanisms for meeting the needs addressed by AICFI.

The alignment of the program with federal roles and responsibilities was addressed through the following question: Are there alternate mechanisms for meeting the needs addressed by the programming?

Are there alternate mechanisms for meeting the needs addressed by the programming?

DFO informants were not aware of other programming that could support capacity building in First Nations commercial fisheries in the same manner as AICFI. There are programs that may provide support in a piecemeal manner, but there does not appear to be any that offer an integrated mechanism to provide support within a framework of rigorous business planning, advice on all dimensions of a commercial fisheries enterprise, and a highly informed process for reviewing proposals for the provision of infrastructure support. Research by the evaluation team did not reveal evidence of alternate mechanisms.

4.2 EFFECTIVENESS

The effectiveness of AICFI was examined by investigating the following issues: implementation of programming; achievement of targeted results; and progress towards achievement of program objectives.

4.2.1  Implementation of programming


Key Finding
The AICFI approach has led to an increase over time in the number of participating First Nation communities. Implementation of programming has been reasonably consistent over the five-year period examined in this study.

AICFI involves delivery of programming to multiple sites with differing profiles. The implementation issue was addressed through two questions. What factors assisted or impeded implementation of programming components? How consistent was the implementation across the differing First Nations?

What factors assisted or impeded implementation of programming components?

Many informants indicated that the receptivity of a First Nation to an offer to participate in AICFI was influenced by its past experience with federal programs, its decision-making structure, the maturity of its commercial fisheries enterprise, and, if it had a person responsible for fisheries management, their status within the community.

How consistent was the implementation across the differing First Nations?

The AICFI approach of tailoring services to meet the needs of the various participating First Nations has been applied consistently, as evidenced by the application of a consistent and rigorous set of criteria as conditions for funding and for assessing performance. Proposals from First Nations for contributions undergo four levels of scrutiny. At a first level the member of the Business Development Team who advises the First Nation will review the proposal informally and offer suggestions for improvement. Next, the proposal is reviewed by the Third Party Evaluator who checks for completeness, relevance to the First Nation’s commercial fisheries business plan, and overall justification for the contribution. This can entail detailed technical verification, for example, checking that a request for funding for a new marine engine is accompanied by test results on the old engine. Then the proposal is examined by an Application Review Board comprised of three experts in commercial fisheries business development, including at least two from First Nations. Finally the proposal is reviewed by DFO staff before a spending decision is taken.

Some inconsistency was found in the provision Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinator services. There is evidence that AICFI has encountered difficulty in providing a Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinator for a group of First Nations that fish the north shore of New Brunswick. As an interim measure, AICFI management has agreed with an AAROM organization that they would deliver services that are similar to those that a Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinator would provide to the First Nations communities.

4.2.2  Achievement of targeted results


Key Finding
Evidence indicates good progress towards achieving targeted results related to business capacity development in participating Mi�kmaq and Maliseet First Nations.

AICFI has contributed to improving the overall efficiency of First Nations participation in the DFO-led process for managing the Atlantic Fishery.

The AICFI Governance Charter specified the results targeted by the program. A multi-part question explored the extent to which results were achieved. A supplementary question asked about key variables within First Nations communities that contributed to the achievement of results.

To what extent were the following targeted results achieved?

Targeted results 1 and 2: Transparent and accountable governance structures for First Nations’ commercial fishing. Sound [appropriate] business processes for management and operation of a commercial fisheries enterprise.

The rules for AICFI required that participating First Nations must produce a business plan for their commercial fisheries enterprise, including the decision-making structure, before they could apply for a financial contribution to the salary of the fisheries coordinator or a contribution to training costs. All participating First Nations have produced at least an initial business plan and plans are reviewed annually, or more frequently, by the Business Development Team.

Fisheries managers in the First Nations communities that were site visited indicated that the governance structure for their commercial enterprise was clear and functioning. One First Nations fisheries manager described AICFI’s positive impact on the community’s transformation from a politicized enterprise governance structure to one that enabled the manager to focus on efficiency and hence profitability.

It is reasonable to conclude that the expected results with respect to business planning and governance have largely been achieved.

Targeted result 3: A Fisheries Coordinator mentored in areas of expertise required to meet the commercial fisheries business management needs of the [each] First Nations community.

All participating First Nations have a person responsible for coordination of fisheries. Of the five First Nations fisheries coordinators that the evaluation team met in site visits, two had university degrees directly related to fisheries management, one had a degree in computing science and extensive experience as a fisheries and natural resources manager, one had nearly completed fisheries management training through AICFI and one, with fisheries experience, had teamed up with an experienced business manager. Believing that the sample was reasonably representative of the population of fisheries coordinators participating in AICFI, the evaluation team concludes that the expected results with respect to expertise in fisheries management have to a large extent been realized.

Targeted result 4: Fishing skills acquired through at-sea mentoring or in-class training

Data in Table 3 provide an overview of the extent of fisheries training during the AICFI program and recent counts of the numbers of First Nations captains and fish harvesters. The data supports anecdotal evidence obtained in site visits indicating that First Nations are engaged in ensuring that their fisheries personnel are trained to fish safely, responsibly and effectively.

Table 3: First Nations Commercial Fisheries Training and Personnel

Table 3
Training of First Nations Fisheries personnel during AICFI, from program outset to 2014 Training and Mentoring Programs 358
Days of Training (all topics) 5,804
Successful Completions 2,508
First Nations Commercial Fisheries personnel as of April 2014 Active Captains 240
Harvesters 1,210
Captains with certification 211
Harvesters certified to be Captain or Mate 422
Source: AICFI Training Advisory Committee, from Training Plans of participating First Nations

Targeted result 5: Fisheries Management System in place for interested, eligible First Nations

A Fisheries Management System was developed early on in the course of AICFI. In that sense, the targeted result has been achieved.

The system provides an electronic interface for First Nations fisheries coordinators and staff to record information on vessels, the catch taken by different captains and crews, sales of fish, sea and weather conditions affecting catch, fuel consumption and qualifications of personnel, to name but a few of the many variables that may be tracked.

Initially the system was installed on computers in each First Nation that expressed an interest. A second version was based in a server at the office of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, thus facilitating ongoing system upgrades. A third cloud-based version is being developed.

In recent years, use of the Fisheries Management System has been a condition of participation in AICFI.4 In two of the five site visits, informants indicated some dissatisfaction with required use of AICFI’s system. In their view, the system was somewhat awkward, unable to link with financial record systems and overlapped systems that they had created independently. Other informants pointed out the benefits of having all participants use the same system. For example, a fisheries coordinator could, simply by sharing the entry codes for their Fisheries Management System, allow a member of the Business Development Team access to the data on their enterprise as the foundation for discussion of a particular problem or idea for a proposal.

Targeted result 6: Increased ability by First Nations to optimize existing access and achieve profitability and sustainability of their commercial fisheries enterprises.

This expected result has three dimensions: optimizing existing access; achieving profitability; and, achieving sustainability.

In site visits to First Nations, the evaluation team learned that existing access usually includes a portfolio of commercial fishing licences, some for aquatic species that have high market value and others for species that either have low market value or are difficult to harvest. It was clear that fisheries managers were attempting to optimize the effectiveness of their licences. In some cases this involved efforts to relinquish less valuable licences in order to acquire more valuable access. In others it involved holding the less valuable licences as possible future equity. In one case optimizing available access involved working with a wholesaler who would provide expensive harvesting technology in return for assurance of product.

Table 4 provides an indication of the First Nations’ potential for achieving profitable commercial fisheries enterprises. The table shows the average landed value of catch for two time periods, one prior to the outset of AICFI and one after. For Mi’kmaq and Maliseet commercial fisheries, the average annual value of landings increased by 18.3% from one time period to the next. In contrast, for all Atlantic commercial fisheries, there was a 9.4% decrease in the average annual value of landings between the two periods.


4 One participating First Nation that had purchased an expensive system elsewhere is, by exception, not obligated to use the Fisheries Management System.

Table 4: Value of First Nations Landings Compared to Atlantic Fishing Industry

Table 4
Commercial fisheries enterprises Average Annual Landed Value of Catch ($ Millions) Percent Change
2004 to 2006 average 2007 to 2011 average
All Mi’kmaq and Maliseet 49.5 58.6 18.3
All Atlantic 1,199.1 1,086.1 -9.4
Source: AICFI Performance Metrics, 2007 to 2013, from DFO Economic Analysis and Statistics

Progress towards achieving sustainability is gauged through an annual process in which Business Development Team members meet with Fisheries Coordinators to assess progress using a series of questions related to business performance. The Business Development Team member assigns a rating score on a wide range of variables. Scores are weighted according to the importance of the variables and then summed to give a total score. Assessment takes into account the size of the First Nation’s commercial fisheries enterprise.

Once the scoring of each community’s commercial fisheries enterprise has been completed, a meeting is arranged at which the Business Development Team, the Third Party Evaluator and a senior DFO staff officer discuss and calibrate the ratings for consistency of assessment across all of the enterprises.

A score of at least 52% on the business capacity index indicates that, in the view of AICFI management, the First Nation’s commercial fisheries enterprise is able to perform under current circumstances and market conditions, provide employment, and make some financial contributions to the community, but with limited room for reinvestment. That is, the commercial fisheries enterprise is delivering some value to the community but will have difficulty expanding and diversifying, and is highly vulnerable to market conditions or other major changes in its situation. Such a commercial fisheries enterprise is considered to lack the capacity to be self-sustaining.

AICFI management considers a First Nation’s commercial fisheries enterprise to be sustainable when it has achieved a score of 82% on the business capacity scale. First Nations achieving that score or higher are, in the opinion of AICFI management, well established and sufficiently advanced to be able to ride out temporary adversity and continue to operate even when business conditions adversely fluctuate. That is, they are considered to be sustainable.

Figure 3 indicates that, when scores of the various First Nations are averaged, there has been steady progress towards self-sustainability of their commercial fisheries enterprises. Underlying these averages, and not visible through the chart, is the fact that some First Nations enterprises score well below the average and some score well above.

Figure 3 - Business Capacity Growth for Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations

Growth for First Nations Commercial Fisheries

As shown in Figure 4, as of 2014, seven of the First Nations had achieved or passed the score that to AICFI management indicates a sustainable enterprise.

Figure 4 - Commercial Fishing Enterprises by Size and Capacity Rating

Number of Commercial Fishing Enterprises

Targeted result 7: Greater involvement by First Nations in fisheries co-management.

Since this targeted result was first articulated, DFO has commenced using the term “collaborative management”. That new term is intended to capture the idea of participation by DFO managers, DFO scientists, non-native fishers and fisheries organizations. First Nations fishers and fisheries organizations, and other stakeholders, all provide information and opinion that may or may not have an impact on DFO decisions.

To understand the context in which increased participation is to be assessed, the evaluation team reviewed a DFO Evaluation of the Integrated Fisheries Resource Management Program that was conducted in 2012. It concluded that the program had limited effectiveness over the preceding five years. The evaluation study found that the program had produced Integrated Fisheries Management Frameworks for only half of the major stocks, and only in limited cases had management practices supported stable fishery access and allocation. Further, while the study found evidence of significant stakeholder participation, there was no process in place to determine the effectiveness of the stakeholder engagement process.

The 2009 evaluation of AICFI and other documents indicate that some First Nation stakeholders, recognizing that they are out-numbered in the resource management process by other stakeholders, including large, well-organized commercial fishing concerns, attribute little significance to their participation in the existing process.

It is against this backdrop that the extent of AICFI’s achievement of greater First Nation involvement in the collaborative management process was considered.

The availability of Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators who regularly attend relevant fishery management meetings does increase the flow of information to First Nations about discussions that took place and decisions that were made. It also can reduce the direct participation of individual First Nations fisheries managers in resource management meetings as they can rely on their Coordinator to keep them informed about meeting outcomes. The Coordinators also facilitate First Nation input to the resource management process on issues of major concern to them.

With the data available, the evaluation team was unable to assess whether the improvement in the efficiency of First Nation participation that has been enabled by the presence of Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators through AICFI translates into an increase in the actual level of participation by First Nations.

What variables among First Nations appear to contribute to the achievement of targeted results?

Of the large number of variables within First Nation communities that affect the achievement of results expected of AICFI, the most important appears to be the First Nation’s fisheries coordinator and the political environment within which that person operates. This general observation emerged from a consideration of views expressed in discussion groups and interviews and was reinforced through conversations during site visits.

Other important variables that appear to influence the achievement of targeted results include the length of time that the band has been involved in commercial fishing and the band’s size and financial strength. The variety of other influencing variables and the complexity of their interactions warrant caution in attributing high or low importance to variables in isolation.

4.2.3  Progress towards achieving program objectives


Key Finding
Evidence gathered indicates progress towards the five objectives for AICFI.

AICFI aims to assist the MMFNs to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Maintain and secure the significant investment made in existing fisheries assets attained through the Marshall Response Initiative;
  2. Further develop the governance, management, administrative and operations capacity of MMFN commercial fisheries enterprises (CFEs) to enable MMFNs to operate successfully and effectively participate in the integrated commercial fishery;
  3. Enhance the ability of MMFNs to participate in the co-management of the integrated commercial fishery;
  4. Assist MMFNs, primarily through Aboriginal Bodies, to assume greater responsibility for their ongoing training/mentoring and other capacity building activities covered in the program; and,
  5. Help diversify existing fishing enterprises through the establishment of a “Commercial Fisheries Diversification Opportunities Source.”

The evaluation addressed progress towards the objectives in a series of four questions.

To what extent has AICFI helped maintain and secure the investment in First Nations’ fisheries assets through the Marshall Response Initiative?

Informants explained a variety of ways in which AICFI has helped protect federal investments in First Nation commercial fisheries enterprise through the Marshall Response Initiative.

  • Some First Nation communities were not entirely prepared for the challenges of maintaining a fleet of vessels. AICFI helped by enabling access to training that included topics related to the care, maintenance and upkeep of vessels.
  • Before AICFI many First Nations were leasing to non-native captains the licences and boats that had been provided through the Marshall Response Initiative. AICFI provided First Nations with data that illustrated the increased value they could return to their communities by training and employing their own captains and crews. This helped embed the investment in the community structure.
  • Some inland First Nation communities had been provided with fishing vessels and licences that were difficult to employ and maintain because of the long distances involved. AICFI in at least one case provided on-shore facilities so that the access provided through the Marshall Response Initiative could be used effectively.

Additional examples were provided to the evaluation team. More generally, AICFI has helped secure former investments by assisting First Nations to obtain the business skills, expertise and infrastructure required for building viable enterprises on the foundations provided by prior investments.

How has AICFI enhanced the ability of First Nations to participate in the co-management of the integrated commercial fishery?

Responses of informants to this question were generally similar to those obtained for the question on achievement of the targeted outcome of increased First Nations participation in the fishery resource management process. The key point emerging from the responses was that the provision of Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinators has enhanced the interface between First Nations and the DFO-led fishery management process.

To what extent has AICFI helped First Nations assume greater responsibility for their ongoing training/mentoring and other capacity building activities?

An earlier question on training (Section 4.2.2, Targeted Result 4) asked if fishing skills had been acquired through at-sea mentoring or in-class training. This question builds on it by asking about First Nation proactivity with respect to training.

Several informants mentioned that some First Nations are offering courses. First Nations who lack the capacity to mount a course, or who have too few students to warrant having the course brought to the community, are working with others to create classes that are large enough to make it feasible to engage an external trainer.

To what extent has AICFI assisted in the diversification of First Nations’ commercial fisheries enterprises?

In site visits the team learned of a wide variety of diversification efforts. Diversifying in terms of harvesting an additional aquatic species was discussed in one site visit. In two other visits, the fisheries coordinators spoke of seafood restaurants, some now in operation and others likely to be in the near future. Another of the First Nations that were visited had built an ice plant. To the extent that the sample of First Nations was representative, it is reasonable to conclude that the First Nation’s commercial fisheries enterprises are providing a foundation for diversification.

Other informants reinforced this observation. They spoke of First Nations establishing trucking companies to transport fish to market, building holding tanks large enough to accommodate catch from more than one fishing enterprise, or setting up tuna fishing expeditions for sport fishers.

It is reasonable to partially attribute the diversification to the business training that has been provided to First Nations and the support and ideas provided by the Business Development Team. AICFI also contributed to diversification of First Nations fishery-related enterprises by participating in a Strategic Partnership Initiative with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The initiative, which used a delivery system that mirrored AICFI’s, provided funds specifically for First Nations diversification projects.

4.3 EFFICIENCY AND ECONOMY

The efficiency and economy of AICFI was assessed by examining program expenditures, administrative costs relative to total program expenditures, and key informant opinions.

Key Finding
AICFI is operated with minimal staff resources and the percentage of administrative costs relative to total expenditures is minimal given the scope and complexity of program activities.

As shown in Table 5 below, AICFI total expenditures over the past five years have hovered close to the budgeted $11.02M. Fluctuations in the level of expenditures are attributed to two reasons.  First, the 2010-11 funding levels are significantly higher due to a re-profile of funding from the 2007-08 fiscal year as a result of the late program start (November) and slow uptake during the first year.  Secondly, the variations between 2011 and 2015 were a response to requests by First Nation communities to bundle funding allocations between years in order to proceed with activities which required funding well in excess of annual notional amounts.  (This was achieved via intra-DFO Grants and Contributions program coordination.)

The percentage of administrative costs relative to total expenditures has varied from a low of 8.04% to a high of 13.15%, for an average of 10.6% over the five years examined. This percentage reflects an efficient administration of the program given that it involves not only the administration of contribution funding but also the coordination of five distinct programming components and the maintaining of critical partnerships with First Nations organizations.

Table 5: Total Program Expenditures

Table 5
  2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
G&C $12,358,078 $7,838,090 $9,526,381 $8,980,508 $10,442,371
O&M $755,779 $795,105 $689,262 $730,286 $813,173
Salary $324,570 $391,206 $423,607 $370,070 $418,299
Total $13,438,427 $9,024,401 $10,639,250 $10,080,864 $11,673,843
Administrative cost (%) 8.04% 13.15% 10.46% 10.92% 10.55%

Most key informants, including beneficiaries, perceive AICFI as being very well administered.

4.4 LESSONS LEARNED AND BEST PRACTICES


Key Finding
AICFI�s delivery mechanism offers useful lessons and best practices for designers of business capacity development programming.

The following lessons learned and best practices were drawn from interviews and key documents:

  1. A long time frame is required for capacity development programming. AICFI has been operating for 8 years. As participation is voluntary, not all eligible communities chose to take part at the program’s outset, which allowed time for program benefits to begin appearing in an initial cohort of communities. Once the benefits were evident, other communities sought entry to the program. Communities were still entering the program several years after program first began.
  2. Deliver services through organizations that are familiar to clients. In the case of AICFI, this is reflected in its contracting out of service delivery to professionals affiliated with First Nations organizations.
  3. Have frequent face-to-face interaction with clients. AICFI ensures an ongoing interface with client communities through regular visits, phone calls and emails by members of the Business Development Team and the commercial fisheries liaison coordinators. Effective inter-personal networks are essential for a capacity development program.
  4. Scrupulously respect client confidentiality. AICFI provided assurance to participating communities that sensitive information would not be shared with DFO or with other First Nations communities. This was important to creating and maintaining client trust.
  5. Tie contributions to requirements for client management expertise. AICFI provided funding for a fisheries coordinator only after a First Nation had demonstrated capacity to prepare a business plan and organize an enterprise governance structure. Proposals for contributions for diversification funding would only be entertained after a First Nation had demonstrated appropriate business capacity, including electronic record keeping.
  6. Assist clients in developing a business management infrastructure. AICFI contributed to the salaries of fisheries coordinators and the development of a Fisheries Management System specifically designed for the First Nations to use as a tool in managing their commercial fisheries enterprises.

These observations echo those presented in an earlier study of AICFI, An Atlantic Fishing Tale 1999 to 2011, published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in 2012.

The evaluation study also examined key variables among the First Nations that facilitated program uptake and achievement of results.

  1. First Nation variables affecting program take-up: Program take-up would appear to be strongly influenced by the attitudes of a First Nation’s chief and council towards involvement in government programming. In the case of AICFI, a commercial fisheries enterprise support program, the First Nation’s willingness to engage would probably also be influenced by the length and depth of the community’s experience in fishing and the perceived importance of commercial fishing to community revenues. Those variables, and community size, would also probably affect the likelihood that the community had a fisheries manager capable of raising the interest of chief and council in participating in AICFI.
  2. First Nation variables affecting program results: Once a First Nation had committed to participating in AICFI, the key person affecting the achievement of results would be the fisheries coordinator. The suitability of that person for their role would depend primarily on the human resource decision-making structure within the First Nation. There is greater likelihood of a good fit between individual and role if the appointment is based on skills and qualifications rather than political connections. The coordinators’ capacity for visioning, their drive, and their openness to learning and ideas, would seem likely to influence their capacity to use AICFI to build their commercial fisheries enterprise.

Other factors that would influence enterprise growth would be the community’s willingness to reinvest profits in the fishery, which in turn would be related to the community’s wealth and the strength of other revenue streams.

A major strength of the AICFI model is its flexibility to respond to a full spectrum of community situations that will result from the interaction of a large number of variables.

5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


5.1 CONCLUSIONS

AICFI is a relevant and well performing program. Evidence gathered as part of this evaluation shows that the program has effectively assisted 32 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations communities in the Gaspé, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in strengthening their capacity to manage, expand and diversify their commercial fisheries enterprises. As of 2014, seven of the 32 participating First Nations commercial fisheries enterprises had been assessed by AICFI management as having become sustainable.

The need for all components of AICFI programming continues to exist, as a majority of the commercial fisheries enterprises of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations, while demonstrating growth in capacity, are not yet self-sustainable. There is great variation in the type, level and timing of needs across the First Nations for development of their commercial fisheries enterprises and AICFI has the flexibility to respond appropriately. The program also remains clearly aligned with the Departmental strategic outcome of economically prosperous maritime sectors and fisheries as well as with the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development.

5.2 RECOMMENDATION

AICFI management has in recent times attempted to reduce support for enterprises that have been deemed sustainable. Reduction of AICFI support elicited strong reactions from many of the affected First Nations and the opinion was advanced that they were being penalized for having developed resilient commercial fisheries enterprises. Eventually compromises were reached between AICFI management and the affected First Nations. However, a clear and mutually understood process to make the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant has yet to be established.

AICFI senior management should develop, in consultation with participating First Nations and key stakeholders, a clear, staged process to assist participating commercial fisheries enterprises in making the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant.

ANNEXES


ANNEX A: SIMPLIFIED AICFI LOGIC MODEL

Annex A

ANNEX B: AICFI EVALUATION MATRIX

Annex B
CORE EVALUATION ISSUES Evaluation Questions Data Collection Method(s)
RELEVANCE OF AICFI
CONTINUED NEED FOR PROGRAM
1.
Has the need for the program evolved over time?
Interviews
Group discussion
Document review
2.
What aspects of the programming are currently most needed by DFO?
Interviews
3.
What is the variation in need among the 32 First Nations that participate in the programming?
Interviews
Group discussion
Site visits
4.
What aspects of the programming are perceived by First Nations as responding to their needs?
Interviews
Group discussion
Site visits
ALIGNMENT WITH GOVERNMENT PRIORITIES
5.
Does the programming continue to align with the strategic outcomes identified for DFO and the government of Canada?
Interviews
Document review
ALIGNMENT WITH FEDERAL ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
6.
Are there alternate mechanisms for meeting the needs addressed by the programming?
Interviews
Document review
PERFORMANCE OF AICFI
EFFECTIVENESS
7.
What factors assisted or impeded implementation of programming components?
Interviews
Group discussion
8.
How consistent was the implementation across the differing First Nations?
Interviews
Group discussion
Document review
Data review
9.
To what extent were the following targeted results achieved?
  1. Transparent and accountable governance structures for First Nations’ commercial fisheries enterprises
  2. Sound business processes for management and operation of commercial fisheries enterprises
  3. A Fisheries Coordinator mentored in areas of expertise required to meet the commercial fisheries business management needs of the First Nations community
  4. Fishing skills acquired through at-sea mentoring or in-class training
  5. Fisheries Management System in place for interested, eligible First Nations
  6. Increased ability by First Nations to optimize existing access and achieve profitability and sustainability of their commercial fisheries enterprises
  7. Greater involvement by First Nations in fisheries co-management
Interviews
Group discussion
Document review
Data review
Site visits
10.
What variables among First Nations appear to contribute to the achievement of targeted results?
Interviews
Group discussion
Data review
11.
Progress towards achieving program objectives
  1. To what extent has AICFI helped maintain and secure the investment in First Nations’ fisheries assets through the Marshall Response Initiative?
  2. How has AICFI enhanced the ability of First Nations to participate in the co-management of the integrated commercial fishery?
  3. To what extent has AICFI helped First Nations assume greater responsibility for their ongoing training/mentoring and other capacity building activities?
  4. To what extent has AICFI assisted in the diversification of First Nations’ commercial fisheries enterprises?
Interviews
Group discussion
Document review
Data review
Site visits
12.
Are positive results likely to be sustained if AICFI ends in 2016?
Interviews
Group discussion
Site visits
EFFICIENCY AND ECONOMY
13.
What evidence indicates that the programming has been delivered efficiently and economically?
Data review
LESSONS LEARNED AND BEST PRACTICES
14.
Are there lessons learned and best practices from the AICFI experience that could be helpful in the design of future programming in DFO or elsewhere?
Interviews
Group discussion
Document review
Data review
Site visits

ANNEX C: MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN

Management Action Plan
RECOMMENDATION 1
Rationale: AICFI management has in recent times attempted to reduce support for enterprises that have been deemed sustainable. Reduction of AICFI support elicited strong reactions from many of the affected First Nations and the opinion was advanced that they were being penalized for having developed resilient commercial fisheries enterprises. Eventually compromises were reached between AICFI management and the affected First Nations. However, a clear and mutually understood process to make the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant has yet to be established.

Recommendation 1: AICFI senior management should develop, in consultation with participating First Nations and key stakeholders, a clear, staged process to assist participating commercial fisheries enterprises in making the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant.

STRATEGY
In the event that AICFI programming is prolonged beyond the end of fiscal year 2015-16, the Department will endeavour to reach out to First Nations’ service delivery partners to develop a transition strategy, which will then be communicated to each eligible First Nation.
MANAGEMENT ACTIONS DUE DATE (BY END OF MONTH)
Develop, in consultation with participating First Nations and key stakeholders, a clear, staged process to assist participating commercial fisheries enterprises in making the transition from an AICFI-assisted commercial fisheries enterprise to one that is self-reliant. May 2017