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DFO announces $11.8 million investment to support First Nations commercial fisheries

Sechelt Fishing Limited Partnership among 31 First Nations commercial fisheries companies to benefit
N.DFO funding
Left to right: Ian Simpson, director of SalPac Fisheries, Paul Wyse-Seward, Snuneymuxw First Nation councillor, Minister Joyce Murray of Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Canadian Coast Guard, Jordan Point, co-chair of Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI), Jennifer Woodland, CEO of Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood LP, and Gary Wilson, CEO of Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nation Group of Businesses.

The Sechelt Fishing Limited Partnership (SFLP) is among 31 First Nations commercial fisheries companies receiving $11.8 million in funding from the federal government, it was announced Wednesday.

On Feb. 23, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Joyce Murray, announced the investment under the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI) outside St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse in Nanaimo. 

“The Government of Canada is committed to building a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition, rights, respect, cooperation and partnership,” the minister said. “This is something we’ve taken to heart at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and we’re working every day to foster a model of shared stewardship to increase First Nations’ involvement in fisheries and fisheries management.”

The 31 companies that will be receiving support represent 117 First Nations across B.C., Murray said. It will go toward 52 initiatives that include purchasing new equipment and vessels, investment in kelp and shellfish aquaculture operations, and expanding quotas, in an effort to support trading opportunities and increased fisheries access for First Nations.

For the Sechelt Fishing Limited Partnership, the commercial halibut quota for 7,500 pounds will allow the company to “expand business opportunities and compete more effectively,” a DFO release following the announcement states. 

SFLP was founded in 2011 by shíshálh Nation, and the corporate entity was formed under the PICFI program through government-to-government negotiations. Under its mission, vision, and philosophy on the website, SFLP aims “To involve young shíshálh Nation members in the commercial fishing business long term by providing opportunities for traditional avenues of employment and entrepreneurship” and “To balance economic and community interests while upholding environmental best practices.”

Funding will also support the establishment of four new commercial fisheries companies under the PICFI program: the Gitksan, Wet'suwet'en, and Gitanyow Nations; Klahoose and Homalco Nations; Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo Nations; and the Lower Fraser Enterprise Limited Partnership.

In B.C., PICFI is co-developed, co-designed, and co-delivered in collaboration with Indigenous partners. Since 2017, PICFI has supported 25 commercial fishing enterprises involving 97 Indigenous groups in B.C., helping to generate more than $14 million in gross revenues annually and support 1,100 local jobs, the minister said. PICFI first launched in 2007.