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Impacts of harvesting rights in Canadian Pacific fisheries

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This report assesses the move to harvesting rights (ITQs) management schemes in three British Columbia fisheries, the B.C. Pacific Halibut fishery, the B.C. Sablefish fishery, and the B.C. Groundfish Trawl fishery respectively. In so doing, the report examines the question of whether the move toward harvesting rights schemes represented an improvement over the previous management scheme, described by the report as limited entry, combined with Olympic style TAC harvesting. The report concludes that, while the harvesting rights scheme are not flawless, they represent a dramatic improvement, both in terms of enhancing the economic viability of the fisheries, and in terms of ensuring the sustainability of the fishery resources providing the basis of the fisheries. Key to the improvement lies in transforming the interaction among the relevant fishers from competition to cooperation.


Clark, Munro and Associates, working in cooperation with Professor Ussif Rashid Sumaila of the UBC Fisheries Centre, and Mr. Bruce Turris of Pacific Fisheries Management Inc., were called upon by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to make an assessment of harvesting rights schemes in Canadian Pacific fisheries. Due to the short term nature of the project, the assessment has been confined to three B.C. fisheries operating under Individual Harvest Quota (IQ) schemes, namely Pacific halibut, sablefish and the groundfish trawl fishery. These fisheries are by no means insignificant. Combined, they account for approximately 40 per cent of the annual harvests, in value terms, of the B.C. commercial capture fisheries (Table A16 – Appendix). The focus of this project, on IQ fisheries alone, must not be seen as implying that the authors of the report have come to the conclusion that IQ fisheries are to be preferred over other harvesting rights schemes, such as community based fisheries management schemes (also referred to as territorial use rights) and fishers’ cooperatives. To the contrary, the authors are of the view that the relative merits of different harvesting rights schemes constitute a question of such magnitude that it deserves a project unto itself.

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