Keeping "local" in the fisheries equation No Images? Click here
News from Ecotrust Canada

That Human Touch

Fishing has always been a cornerstone of healthy living in coastal BC, central to economic health and community culture. But with fish stocks declining, prices dropping, and regulatory requirements increasing, communities must figure out new ways to survive in a changing industry.

One way is to keep “local” in the equation. By training local people to monitor their local fisheries – rather than importing technicians at high cost to fishermen – we’re helping to keep local fishing knowledge and expertise alive.


Brenna Boyle has only been a seasonal fishery Observer with Ecotrust Canada since 2014, but as a born and raised Prince Rupertite came to the job with a deep understanding of place and both professional and personal expertise with local fisheries.

In April of this year, she joined our Prince Rupert office as Project Administrator for our Area A Crab monitoring program – and occasionally gets back to her Observer roots. Last month, she wrote about her experiences as an Area A biosampler:

“Do you get seasick? It’s going to be a rough ride,” Les Maxwell and the boys of the Area A crab vessel Delta Harvester ask as soon as I get settled.

I say ‘boys’ because they’re young and instantly remind me of my younger brother, and brothers they became. But really these ‘boys’ are tough guys, lugging, hauling, and stacking heavy commercial traps from the depths of the Hecate Strait to the deck of the vessel, baiting them, then sending them back down to the ocean floor.

I’ll admit I was nervous, what with all of the unknowns: should I take Gravol? Would I get along with the guys or would I be shunned since I wasn’t part of the crew? Would I get in their way while I worked?


Join the Discussion

The Province of BC is developing a Climate Leadership Plan and it wants your opinion. Until August 17th, BC residents can participate in the consultation process through an online survey. Weigh in on where BC should prioritize its climate adaptation efforts.


Fisheries monitoring is key to achieving environmental sustainability in the commercial industry. Yet through our work with fishermen in coastal communities, we’ve realized it’s also a prime opportunity for improving economic sustainability.

Typical Observer monitoring programs can cost a fisherman tens of thousands of dollars each season – a real make-or-break expense for a struggling enterprise. By employing local Observers, fishermen:

  • Don’t have to pay for technicians to be flown in
  • Keep money in their own communities
  • Build local industry support
  • Keep local fisheries knowledge alive and well

Our industry, community, and First Nations partners highlighted a need for better fisheries infrastructure in coastal communities. Our Observer programs fit into our suite of locally-led monitoring, compliance, and traceability programs.



With thanks,

Brenda Kuecks, President