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News from Ecotrust Canada

Financing Our Fisheries


The health, economies, and culture of coastal BC communities depend on commercial fishing. But fishermen today are facing a lot of pressure: licenses are getting more expensive, access is continually restricted, and it’s getting harder to make a decent living from fishing.

Ecotrust Canada has been working on tools and solutions to support owner-operators in the commercial fishery for over twenty years.

Our latest project, designing a community-based revolving loan fund gives local fishermen access to low-cost loans for in-season start-up costs. The fund would allow participants to sell their fish wherever they want – releasing them from the constraints of predatory loan practices.

A community-led approach to lending can be more successful than faceless banks and investors.

Through a detailed community design process, we enlist community staff, fishermen, and community members in designing the loan fund for success.

This year, we piloted the fund with the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation. In 2016, we’re hoping to expand the programs to more coastal communities in BC, bringing greater stability to our small-scale fisheries.


Graham Anderson brings years of experience in social enterprise and entrepreneurship to his role as Ecotrust Canada’s Financial Strategist. With a fresh perspective on fisheries, he sees great potential to reinvigorate the industry.

“There is often a disconnect between fishermen and conventional sources of finance. A range of predatory lending services and practices fill this void, exposing people to unnecessary risks while seriously limiting opportunities for community benefit. Our revolving loan fund provides an important starting place for fishing communities to bridge this gap.

"Ecotrust Canada takes a unique community-driven approach in helping people reclaim their local economies."


Our fisheries loan fund is really the next step on a long path for Ecotrust Canada. We operated a $4 million loan fund for a decade. Our study on social impact bonds underscored the ability of new financial tools to fund innovative social programs. Our study on commercial fishing’s intangible benefits highlighted a need to preserve the industry as a source of strength and stability in our coastal communities.

Our deep knowledge of industry and economy presents us with the opportunity to bring real change. And so we’re taking that opportunity. Above all else, our work is not pie in the sky. We design and put into place real solutions for the people who need them most.

As 2015 draws to a close, projects like our fisheries loan fund truly shine as examples of Ecotrust Canada’s work and impact. Wherever 2016 takes us, I know we will continue to innovate and push the conversation forward – while staying true to our roots.


With thanks,

Brenda Kuecks, President