Resource: Transferable shares in British Columbia’s commercial salmon fishery

Authors / Publisher: Terry Glavin for Watershed Watch Salmon Society

Date: October 2007

PDF: Transferable shares in British Columbia’s commercial salmon fishery


For several years, conservationists have tried their best to identify the fundamental, structural problems that make the British Columbia salmon fishery “unsustainable.” The conservationist focus has been on habitat protection, and on the need for a shift away from mixed-stock fisheries that tend to pose serious and persistent threats to biological and spatial diversity in salmon populations.

We are usually most vocal, and most adamant, when we find ourselves forced to demand fisheries closures. Watershed Watch is of the view that while these demands are justified by circumstance, fisheries closures are never environmental victories. They are tragic and necessary acknowledgements of defeat.

We are also of the view that a solemn responsibility comes with the enhanced role conservationists have taken on lately in fisheries-management decisions. We see a constructive “third-party” role for ourselves in addressing the deeply-entrenched structural problems that beset the salmon fishery.

It is in this spirit that we prepared this discussion paper.

We see a way forward to sustainability in the West Coast salmon fishery. We believe the way forward lies in the experience of other commercial fisheries on Canada’s West Coast that have made the transition to “transferable shares” management.

The purpose of this paper is to encourage debate in industry, in fisheries management circles, and most importantly, among members of the concerned public, in the hopes of encouraging the West Coast salmon fishery to make that transition.


Terry Glavin is the primary author of this Watershed Watch discussion paper, but advice was generously provided by a wide array of fishery participants and informed observers, including Dave Barrett, Dave Boyes, Charles Conn, Aaron Hill, Bruce Hill, Vicky Husband, Craig Orr, Bruce Turris and Ken Wilson. Terry wanted to particularly thank Chris Sporer for his contributions.

Watershed Watch gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in the production of this discussion paper.


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