December 12, 2019
Atlantic Canada was attractive to early European explorers because of its abundant timber stands and fish stocks, and these staple industries have been key to local economies ever since. In 2017, Atlantic Canada’s balance of forestry trade (the value of exports minus imports) was $2.28 billion, according to Natural Resources Canada. The region’s fishing and aquaculture industries are the country’s largest, and produced $3.76 billion of fish in 2017, according to DFO.
While circumstances and innovation constantly change how these industries operate, local business owners know that to maintain their livelihoods they need to ensure they are economically and environmentally sustainable.
Anthony Cobb’s father left fishing in the 1960s because he couldn’t support his family. Trawling and the cod moratorium killed the local industry, and many like him left their small fishing communities.
In 2015, Cobb co-founded the social enterprise Fogo Island Fish. Today 60 fishers catch for the company, up from 33 in year one. Four times as many people work in the community fish plant, filleting and flash-freezing the catch. Each fish is caught by hand, one at a time, bled and iced at sea to preserve its quality. Unlike the gill net method popular before the moratorium, hand-lining results in zero by-catch so there’s no waste.
“[Industrial fishing] has a business model that is largely organized with the assumption that there’s an abundance of fish. The reality is we’ve got fish stocks that are in deep trouble, not just cod,” says Cobb. “We need to remake the business model of industrial-scale fishing.”
Read the rest of this story on Natural Resources Magazine.