B.C. Tuna Fishermen's Association

BCTFA Update - May, 2016

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It’s been a busy year for your executive.  There have been a number of significant changes in the structure of the BCTFA, and more changes are under way.  All of these are meant to improve the function of our organization, to provide better and more timely service to the BC tuna industry.



As you are probably aware by now, at the Annual General Meeting the membership voted unanimously to change our annual membership dues from an individually paid membership, where s.68 license holders paid $250 and Canada and High Seas fishers paid $100, to a new structure, where the membership fees are attached to the annual logbook fees.  As a consequence, every fisherman who purchases a logbook is entitled to a courtesy membership in the BCTFA, along the same lines as the automatic membership in the Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation.

There are several advantages to this new membership structure, not the least of which are that we now have a funding mechanism that will provide the BCTFA with the monies it needs to properly do the work it does on behalf of all Canadian tuna fishermen.  Also, we can now describe ourselves as representing all, or the vast majority of, Canadian tuna fishermen.   Anyone who does not wish to be included as a BCTFA member can so advise the BCTFA by email, and their name will be removed from the membership list.  We will still offer the $150 per year corporate membership to our business affiliates.

The annual membership fee can now be tailored to our annual projected budget, so fees can be adjusted to meet the needs of the BCTFA for the coming year.


While we hear from a lot of fishermen wanting to apply the 2009 Control date there has been a substantial change in the fleet profile over the past 6 years. In keeping with our past commitments of being more "inclusive " than not and in order to achieve buy -in and acceptance from the fleet perhaps the Default Date of 2009 would be only an integral part of the final formula. Consideration of recent participation could be included and that is something that will need to be determined if the fleet moves in this direction. Our fishery belongs to the active participants and we have an opportunity here and now to safeguard our future. From past experience, we all know that without impetus from us DFO can, and will, make no effort towards achieving this. DFO needs to hear a clear message from us, the fleet. If this is the direction the fleet wants to take, the fleet has to take the initiative.

After the industry discussion about the prospect of a stand-alone CT license, possibly in conjunction with some sort of license limitation, at the general meeting at Beban Park in April, DFO has decided to look into doing a survey to determine the fleet’s views.  Presently, the process of creating a stand-alone tuna license is winding its way through the necessary regulatory changes.


The language that was included in all of our previous treaties that compelled our countries to participate in a bi-lateral meeting to discuss a future treaty was dropped in our last negotiated treaty so, as a result, next winter will see us renegotiating the Canada/US Albacore Tuna Treaty.  The first order of business is to contact as many of our counterparts in the US as we can, to encourage them to get the word to the State Department that they value the Treaty, and that the Treaty should be renegotiated.  This is a critical step, as there is no automatic requirement to renegotiate in the Treaty.  While we are contacting US fishermen, DFO international division will be carrying the same message to their counterparts in the State Department.

Gregg Holm has attended the WFOA AGM last fall, the WFOA meeting at the boat expo in Seattle in November, and recently attended the Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting in Sacramento.  To date, the feeling in those rooms is that there has been an increased awareness among US fishermen about the benefits of the treaty, and a detectable softening of the sense of opposition we have encountered at the last two or three negotiating sessions.  We are optimistic that this new attitude amongst US fishermen can translate into a more equitable treaty next time around.


With the Liberal governments election promise to protect 5% of Canada’s marine waters by 2017, and 10% by 2020, DFO has been scrambling to figure out how to make this happen.  The first order of business is to determine exactly what an MPA is.  There is a wide range of possibilities in the approach to defining what an MPA is, and a lot of differing opinions within the scientific community.  The first thing we as fishermen need to recognize is that an MPA is not always an exclusion zone.

Unfortunately, our only experience with MPA’s to date is with the Bowie Seamount.  That is not a good precedent.  Being excluded from a massive area of potentially productive water in order to “protect” the seamount, while other fisheries can still operate therein, defies logic and frustrates those of us who have had to deal with this form of blinkered bureaucracy.  Given the size of our offshore fishing territory it seems quite likely that some new portion of our territory will be targeted as an MPA.  If this happens our job will be to ensure that our fleet does not lose access for fishing.  And maybe, just maybe, the MPA criterion and selection process will allow reconsideration of the tuna fishing ban in the Bowie Seamount zone.

If all the Rockfish Conservation Areas, marine parks, and other already-protected areas count towards the total to be met, we already stand at about 4.6%.  So meeting the 2017 target of 5% may not be too big a stretch.  However, there will be some serious work to be done if the government holds to its 10% by 2020 pledge.


We have recently been advised by DFO that a proposed new international management and assessment process, called MSE, is coming our way.  At the May 10 Tuna Advisory Board (TAB) meeting we had a discussion with our DFO tuna managers about just what MSE is, and how our fishery will be involved in developing MSE, and how our fishery will be affected by MSE.  We are all still very much in the learning phase.

Our incomplete understanding indicates that MSE is a comprehensive fisheries assessment and management process.  It takes in to account a far more detailed approach to the scientific assessment of the tuna stocks, and it also takes sociological aspects of the various tuna harvesters and fishing nations into consideration when it looks at the future use (and possible allocation?) of tuna stocks.

MSE can be viewed as an aspect of the new cooperative management style that seems to be developing in DFO.  While getting away from the old-school, top-down directives of the old management style can be seen as a good thing, the price to be paid for cooperative management, and its more consultative style, is that there will be a lot more bureaucracy to work through to get to agreements.


The BCSA is an umbrella committee made up of representatives from most of the seafood sectors in the province.  We have had a seat on the Board for several years now, and it has proven to be a very good thing.  The BCSA is a clearinghouse for political, safety, marketing, and all other issues that affect commercial fisheries in BC.  Chaired by the very capable Christina Burridge, the BCSA has been of tremendous assistance to our organization.  Starting with promptly arranging a meeting with the Minister when the Treaty went down in 2012, to providing the advice and assistance of Brian Mose and Bruce Turris to walk us through the reorganization process at our April directors’ meeting.

At the BCSA board meetings all matters of universal importance to the fishing industry are aired and discussed.  There is a lot of valuable information and ideas that come out of our being at the board.  Without our being there, our organization would be on its own, and would have to rely on second-hand information, rumor and gossip to get some idea about what is going on in the world of fisheries.


The “sporties” are coming, and they’re not going to go away.  With that in mind, we have created a small subcommittee, with two members of TAB, and 4 from the Sport Fish Advisory Board, to facilitate communications between our two organizations.

The subcommittee was formed after a presentation given by Ian Bryce to the Sport Fishing Institute, a lobby group for the fishing charter and fishing lodge interests, last November.  The presentation served to highlight the commercial fishing industry’s concerns about the safety of their small-boat fleet when going after tuna, and the safety of their catch as it is transported and ultimately used as food.  All of this was based on our concerns about the overly-generous 20 fish sport limit.

The “sporties” were receptive to our concerns about small-boat safety when offshore, and with our concerns about the improper handling of tuna.  They were less enthusiastic when asked to voluntarily reduce the sport limit to a more sensible number.    Given that DFO is highly unlikely to provoke the powerful sport fishing industry, and, barring some disaster, it is unlikely the limit will change.

Still, in the interest of safety, the committee drafted up a pamphlet with lots of advice for the newbie tuna fisherman to consider before venturing offshore for his grand adventure.  We will stay in touch with the sport fishing community through the subcommittee, in order to work together on those matters which, affect both our fleets.


IMPORTANT- DOLPHIN SAFE PROGRAM- for those landing in US or selling to US

As you may know NOAA in the US now administers the DOLPHIN SAFE PROGRAM (it used to be an NGO and the members of CHMSF had blanket coverage on this program since it is proven that our fishery does not negatively impact Dolphins).

Since 2013 this has changed and many fishermen/processors who sell to the USA are aware of this change- a declaration signed by the captain must be signed and submitted.

As of MAY 21, 2016 there is an additional change in the program.   IE   These new 2016 regulations slightly modify the statement required on each Captain's certification, and require that Captains complete (ie. read) our NMFS dolphin-safe captain's training course which can be found on our website here (also attached as PDF).

This simply requires a captain of the vessel to read this 10- page document and then they can verify that all tuna caught is DOLPHIN SAFE.

My suggestion is that if you sell to a processor to have the Captain SIGN THE DECLARATION and have the company you sell to to keep on file. so that for each shipment they can fill in the details and send along with the shipment,

Attached is a cc of the CAPTAINS STATEMENT and the Course Document

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Lorne Clayton ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or you can contact directly:  
Daniel Studt, Tuna Tracking & Verification Program,
National Marine Fisheries Service
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Released by BCTFA
May 20, 2016

Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 May 2016 10:47 )  
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