Evolving economic salmon fisheries in the fraser and okanagan rivers
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Evolving Economic Salmon Fisheries in the Fraser and Okanagan Rivers. Can Coop Models Assist Development of Community-Based Fisheries? January 6, 2011. Fraser River Fishery Some Current Challenges. Broadly distributed fisheries Little infrastructure, fishery and processing capital

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Evolving Economic Salmon Fisheries in the Fraser and Okanagan Rivers

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Evolving Economic Salmon Fisheries in the Fraser and Okanagan Rivers

Can Coop Models Assist Development of

Community-Based Fisheries?

January 6, 2011

Fraser River FisherySome Current Challenges

  • Broadly distributed fisheries

  • Little infrastructure, fishery and processing capital

  • Seasonal fishery has difficulty retaining markets

  • Limited volumes of fish and need to maximize value

  • Lack of organized access to markets/distribution

  • Wide range and large number of localized stakeholders

  • Functional traceability will require broader agreement on systems and standards.

What is a Co-op?

  • A co-operative is any enterprise that is collectively owned and democratically controlled by its members for their mutual benefit.

  • What makes co-ops unique is that they blend economic and social goals and are operated for the benefit of their members with each member having a say in decisions that affect the co-op.

Some co-op examples

  • Long history of co-ops playing a key role in agriculture and fisheries in BC and on Pacific coast

  • Examples *

    • Oceanspray

    • Welch’s

    • Sunkist

    • BC Tree Fruits

    • Dairyland

    • United Flower Growers

    • ChignikSeafood Producers Alliance - Alaska

    • Prince Rupert Fishers’ Co-op (1931-1995)

      * Also: credit unions, co-op stores, co-op insurance, co-op housing, worker co-ops, artist co-ops (Arctic Co-op)

Survival Rate of Co-ops

  • Co-ops have a higher survival rate than other forms of enterprise

    • Over 5 years, co-ops have a 64% survival rate; only 36% of private firms survive

    • Over 10 years, co-ops have a 46% survival rate; only 20% of private firms survive

  • Co-op Survival rate by sector

    • Consumer co-ops (5 yr: 82%, 10 yr: 66%)

    • Producer co-ops (5 yr: 77%, 10 yr: 58%)

    • Worker co-ops (5 yr: 44%, 10 yr: 26%)

  • Prince Rupert Fisherman’s Co-op:

    Co-op boats docked outside the plant in Prince Rupert.Image Source: Northern Savings Credit Union

    Prince Rupert Fisherman’s Co-op

    Women working on a fillet line at the co-op's Vancouver, B.C. processing plant.Image Source: Northern Savings Credit Union

    An aerial view of Kaien Island, home to the city of Prince Rupert (upper left) and the co-op plant (centre).Image Source: Northern Savings Credit Union

    Co-operatives in Japan

    • Backbone of fisheries management

    • Fishing rights to a sea area are personal property of individual members of the association (no difference between land holdings/tenure and sea holding/tenure)

    • Based on village customary law

    • Organized on true co-operative principles (onemember, one vote)

    Role of Fisheries Cooperative Association (FCA)

    • Assignment /acknowledgement of fishing rights

    • Marketing, processing, and other support (supplies, transport, training, financing, etc.)

    • Dispute resolution

    • Implement and enforce national and prefecture legislation

    • Supplement legislation with local or area-based rules as local conditions require

    History of Japanese Co-ops

    Pre-feudal times (pre-1603)

    • Emperors granted rights (set gear) to areas where rivers flowed in and out of lakes

    • Exclusive offshore rights were granted to specific communities

      Feudal Era (1603-1867)

    • Japanese society organized as fiefdoms

    • Coastal villages were instructed to proclaim and define sea territory

    • Villages were classified as farming or fishing settlement (shared use of resources)

    History (cont’d.)

    Post Feudal period (1868-1948)

    • After fiefs were dismantled, ownership of fisheries reverted to central government. Fishing permits based on a use tax.

    • Impossible to monitor or control - free-for-all ensued; traditional system re-established at prefecture level; fiefdom powers replaced by fishing co-operatives.

    • Rights were based on clearly defined sea territories associated with traditional use patterns.

    Co-op Features

    • Fishing co-ops control operations through assignment of licenses within specific geographic communities.

    • Licenses based on distance from shore and type of gear used.

    • Fishing rights may be held by individuals, private enterprises, or co-operatives.

    • Rights cannot be loaned, rented, transferred, or mortgaged. They may be inherited.

    • Co-ops and the FCA belong to local communities of fishermen.

    Co-op Advantages

    • Based on traditional fishing practices and shared use of resources.

    • Avoid crowding and depletion of resources.

    • Share risk as well as benefits.

    • Lower costs, increase capacity, and improve power in the marketplace.

    Co-op Advantages cont’d.

    • Make possible co-operation among communities.

    • Fishing co-ops improve quality and yield, develop new markets, negotiate higher prices, co-ordinate timing of harvest with market demand.

    • Co-ops manage resolution of disputes.

    • Allow participation of processors and other stakeholders on the basis of negotiated agreements.

    Co-op Advantages cont’d.

    • Co-op legislation in BC allows government agencies and Native councils to join co-ops as stakeholders.

    • Recent court rulings on treaty rights allow co-op members who are Natives to retain fish as personal property and to be exempted from paying income tax.

    Co-op Structure/Roles

    • Co-op Association

    • Assignment of quotas/fishing rights

    • marketing, processing, bulk purchasing, transport, other support to local co-ops

    • quality control/tracing

    • formal dispute resolution

    • regulation enforcement


    • Local Co-op

    • manage licenses

    • harvesting

    • informal dispute resolution

    • monitoring

    • Local Co-op

    • Local Co-op

    Common Pool Resources (CPRs)

    • Common Pool Resources such as fish are not public goods.

    • While monitored access to resources is relatively free for community members, outsiders are excluded.

    • A common pool resource appears as a private good to outsiders but as a common good to community members.

    • Resources drawn from the system are typically owned by the appropriators (users).

    Rules for Governing Common Pool Resources

    1. Clearly defined boundaries.

    2. Appropriation and use based on local conditions.

    3. Collective-choice system based on the participation of users in the decision making process.

    4. Effective monitoring is done by monitors who are part of, or accountable to, the users.

    Rules cont’d.

    5. Graduated sanctions for users who do not respect community rules

    6. Conflict-resolution mechanisms which are cheap, transparent, and easy to access.

    7. In case of larger CPRs: organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small, local CPRs at their base.

    (ElinorOstrom, Governing the Commons)

    A final thought …

    A co-operative system combines the dynamism of entrepreneurship with the need for collaboration, which is the basis for managing the Fraser River fishery as a common pool resource that maximizes benefit to communities and fishers, not corporations.

    Thanks …

    … questions?

    John RestakisBC Co-operative Associationrestakis@bcca.coopwww.bcca.coop

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