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Canada’s Independent Fish Harvesters Welcome Landmark Changes to Fisheries Act

February 6, 2018

Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick – The Canadian Independent Fish Harvester’s Federation (CIFHF) is celebrating a significant victory in the fight to protect the independence of Canada’s owner operator fishery. After years of lobbying for legislative change, today fish harvesters welcomed the tabling of amendments to the federal Fisheries Act that will protect the independence of fish harvesters whose industry is the cornerstone of the economy in coastal communities.

“For more than 20 years, fisheries organizations across Canada have been calling on the federal government to enact legislation that ensures fishing licenses and the wealth derived from those licenses stays in the hands of owner operators and their communities, not corporations,” said Melanie Sonnenberg, President of the Canadian Independent Fish Harvester’s Federation. “Enshrining the owner operator and fleet separation policies in law will protect our industry and allow future generations a fair shot at making a living in the fishery.”

The amendments to the Fisheries Act provide clear protections for inshore owner operators, specifically stating that the decision making will be guided by considerations for the “preservation or promotion of the independence of license holders in commercial fisheries” and “social, economic, and cultural factors.”

Additionally, the new amendments give the Minister authority to establish regulations to protect existing owner operator and fleet separation policies.

“This legislation draws a line in the sand and sends a clear message to corporations – they can no longer manipulate the system,” continued Sonnenberg. “While there is still work to be done to ensure these amendments become law, today is a victory for independent fish harvesters across Canada who want to maintain a fishery that supports their families and their communities for generations to come.”


For media inquiries, please contact:

Melanie Sonnenberg
President, Canadian Independent Fish Harvester’s Federation