AIMS Board Chair John Risley knows the ups and downs of the fishing industry first-hand through his wild seafood company, Clearwater Fine Foods. In this commentary, he argues that reform to the federal Fisheries Act and entire fishing industry in Canada are needed, if the industry is to sustain over the long-term. With the proper reforms, the fishing industry in Canada could go from an outdated ‘social fisheries’ model to a productive industry guided by conservation and profit.

Currently, the Department of Fisheries is required to conduct complex, costly studies surrounding habitat protection, even when there are no commercial or environmentally important species to protect. Risley agrees the government may have a vested interest in protecting underwater habitats, but reducing regulatory inefficiency and reallocating resources to focus on legitimate fish conservation would likely improve overall habitat protection in a more effective way. The current practice of having multiple levels of government conduct these studies is too expensive and unnecessary.

In Fishing for Change, Risley explains that the industry is trying to “grow up,” dealing with an ageing workforce on sea and land, and competing with the opportunities afforded by the energy industries across the country. Instead of embracing the memories of what the industry once was, Risley argues that we should direct our policy away from over-regulation, to create an industry capable of creating career opportunities for a young, mobile workforce.

Click here to read the full commentary.