Fishing communities, like the one that once existed on Cortes Island, are becoming memories. The Cortes museum lists 28 independent fishing boats based at one of island’s docks during the 1970s. Twenty years ago, 5 were still returning to Mansons Landing. By 2016 this number had shrunk to 2 boats and neither of them fished Cortes waters. While this decline may partially reflect the shift towards large corporate fishing fleets, a new UBC study states a quarter of Canada’s fish stocks are in decline and the industry would benefit from a complete closure of fishing for some species.
The authors point to the rebound of Norway’s herring stocks, which came close to the point of extinction in the 1980s but are now flourishing, as an example of what can be accomplished.
After the stocks are replenished, fishermen will be able to take a larger harvest.
The authors also suggest the federal government implement economic and social assistance programs to help the estimated 5,000 fishermen, who would lose their jobs, find alternative sources of income.
- Study Suggests closing fisheries for long term economic gain
- Interview with the late Joe Jordan about four decades of gillnetting on Cortes Island (includes lists of fishermen and fish boats on Cortes from 1930s to 2001)
- Articles about fishing on Cortes Island
- Articles about independent fishermen
Top photo credit: Salmon fry, credit Credit: Jake Sisco/USFWS via Flickr (CC BT SA, 2.0 License)
This is a Cortes Currents news update, broadcast over Cortes Radio, CKTZ 89.5 FM and funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.