Today and tomorrow, March 23-24, the 2023 BC Young Fishermen’s Network Gathering is being held in Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. Two days of presentations and conversations on topics such as fisheries management, business planning, marketing, marine safety, equipment and vessel maintenance, science and policy, and the future of fishing. Two days where participants will be able to connect with young harvesters and industry members from across the province. But not only that, as organizers say, the Gathering is a collaborative celebration of commercial fishing’s next generation on the West Coast.
Following last evening’s “Shore Leave Networking Night”, an informal meeting to catch up with old friends and make new contacts, the bulk of the Gathering will be divided into two intense days at the Rotary Hall of the Maritime History Centre in Campbell River.
First day, March 23, 2023
Mark Urwin – a New Zealander turned BC prawner, is a 5th generation harvester and fishmonger, who is active in the BC Seafood alliance, the local port authority board, and contributes to several other organizations in the area – will be giving the welcome address. This will be followed by a “Fisheries Update Session” where fishermen and industry experts will provide information on BC’s diverse fisheries to both young fishermen, people exploring new opportunities in the industry, or those who are already involved but want to discover what’s new in other fisheries outside of their focus.
“A Buoyant Future: Collaborating to Reach Our Common Goals” is the title of the next panel. It will discuss the collective challenges facing fisheries in BC, but also the power of the industry’s large network and how they can support each other to grow together. After a break for lunch – or to take a guided tour of museums or historic boats – the day will continue with the “BC Fisheries Management 101 with DFO” session, where two DFO fisheries management experts will offer tips needed for a successful and safe season. At the same time there will also be workshops – about nets, traps, knots… – as well as a session on safety at sea where they will try to break myths and learn the facts from experts.
The next talk, “Out of Sight, but Not Out of Mind: Helping Fishers Reclaim Lost Gear in BC and Beyond”, will present research on lost gear management solutions followed by a panel discussion on current strategies and ongoing efforts to recover them both locally and globally. Then in “Money Talks – Financing your Fishing Business with BMO”, a fisheries finance expert will discuss how to build, grow and sustain a fishing business from a financial perspective.
The first day will conclude with the “Gathering Feast,” where attendees can sample locally sourced delicacies from The Good Wife Gourmet executive chef Amber Assu, including sockeye salmon caught in Area 13 by local Indigenous hereditary chief Brian Assu, processed into filets and lox at St. Jean’s Cannery.
Second day, March 24, 2023
The second day will be a little shorter, but no less interesting. It will begin with a session in which several members of the local marine planning team will talk about how the development of Marine Protected Areas will impact the future of how they fish. This will be followed by a talk, “Developing BC’s First Coastal Marine Strategy,” which will offer attendees insight into how a coastal marine strategy can look at the big picture of ocean ecosystem health and community well-being, as well as its opportunities.
From there, attendees will be able to split into two. Those who opt for the Rotary Hall will be able to attend the session on “Native Fishing Association: Business Growth and Opportunities,” where two experts from the Native Fishing Association will offer advice to First Nations men and women in the commercial fishing industry on how to navigate the opportunities in the sector. This will be followed by “Empowering Indigenous women in BC’s Fishing Industry,” a time to celebrate Indigenous women in the West Coast commercial fishing industry and examine ways to create space and opportunities for them to continue to take on important roles in the fishery.
Meanwhile, in the Thulin Room, run by Fishermen for Fishermen, Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Mutual Marine Insurance Company, the speech “Mutual Marine – Insuring your Fishing Business” will be given by an expert who has worked for 36 years in insurance while also fishing off the coast of BC. Afterward, in the same room, there will be an open networking/discussion space where attendees will be able to finish networking. The conference will close with parting words.
Anyone interested in learning more about the conference or the speakers, as well as reading or watching videos about previous Gatherings, can do so by visiting the BC Young Fishermen’s Network website by following this link.
About BC Young Fishermen’s Network
The BC Young Fishermen’s Network (BCYFN) is a supportive space for the next generation of B.C.’s fishing fleet. The organization truly believes that supporting young fish harvesters means supporting the health and well-being of our coastal communities. As such, it fosters learning and networking among young fishermen, connecting them with the people and resources they need to succeed.
As a “fisherman to fisherman network”, the BCYFN direction comes from a volunteer steering committee of young harvesters across the coast and across fisheries. The Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation provides backbone support for the Network.