Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative

The Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI) is an innovative program that increases Aboriginal participation in complex economic opportunities, primarily in the natural resource sectors. Learn more about how SPI has helped diversify Aboriginal fisheries in the Atlantic region.

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Transcript: Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative

Narrator: Launched in 2010, the Strategic Partnerships Initiative is an innovative program aimed at increasing Aboriginal peoples participation in complex economic opportunities, primarily in the natural resource sectors, by coordinating the efforts and investments of multiple federal partners.

In 2010, the Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative was the first project supported under the SPI.

Kevin Fram: What's been beautiful about the Strategic Partnerships Initiative, which has flowed from cabinets' directive on the federal framework for Aboriginal economic development, is that it has basically pushed the whole federal family and all program areas to develop a whole of government approach.

Narrator: Contributing 2 billion dollars a year to the economy, Canada has one of the most valuable and diverse commercial fishing industries in the world.

Aboriginal peoples play a key role in the fishing economy, and continue to rely on fishing as an essential resource. One that maintains a connection to a traditional culture and way of life.

In the Atlantic, the fisheries sector is a vital part of the regional economy, bringing jobs, growth and economic prosperity to many local communities.

In 2006, decreased stock levels in some fish species, especially snow crab, put pressure on local Aboriginal fishery enterprises to be more efficient and diversified.

In 2010, the Government of Canada, along with a number of partners, developed the Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative to help improve the long-term sustainability of Aboriginal fisheries.

This was the first investment under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative.

The initiative helped to support local Aboriginal communities to diversify their fish enterprises and pursue economic opportunities in new areas of the fisheries sector, leading to increased employment and wealth creation in their communities. One recipient group to benefit was the Indian Island Oyster Farm, in New Brunswick.

Ken Barlow: When I first became Chief, I started looking at businesses that I could start up for the band, and oysters was one of the ones. By floating oysters on top of the water, most of the food is on top of the water, so they grow faster rather than sitting on the bottom.

Narrator: As a direct result of the Strategic Partnership Initiative, 7 permanent jobs were created at the Indian Island Oyster Farm, an aquaculture operation in New Brunswick.

The Indian Island First Nation is aiming to produce and sell 1 million oysters a year and is becoming a model for sustainable business.

Ken Barlow: We got funding from ACFDI and we were able to build a shop. Before that, the guys were sorting on the beach. You know, they were in the sun all day. The ACFDI funding helped us to build this building. So, now we're able to get ready for the storm and then they can sort inside.

Narrator: Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative funding has helped launch 22 new fisheries related ventures for the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet First Nations that provide them with exciting new opportunities.

The Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative has helped the Mi'kmaq people of Eskasoni incorporate the value of "Netukulimk," or sustainability into their community.

They are creating new jobs, developing important skills for their people and creating sustainable systems of wealth generation for their communities.

Ken Tobin: For awhile we were just harvesters and we brought the product to shore and we sold to the buyer. We since then purchased trucks, trailers and we not only landed at the shore but we offload the vessel, load our trucks and take it to whoever pays us the highest price.

Narrator: With funding under the initiative, the Eskasoni have created 13 new full-time jobs.

They have also reinvested 75% of their 2 million dollar revenue into community projects such as education and housing and the remaining 25% is ear-marked for future business opportunities.

Leonard Denny: What we are trying to do is capture more of what we need and sort of be self sufficient and supply our own trucking and again we'll get into other things later on as we progress.

Narrator: A key goal of a number of communities was to use the Atlantic Commercial Fisheries Diversification Initiative funding not only as a means to create employment and spin off business opportunities, but also to expand their current businesses and position them to access new markets.

Wagmatcook First Nation of Nova Scotia has done just that.

Preston Bernard: When we developed these subsidiary companies our whole intention was to create employment revenue streams for the Band and to create employment opportunities for Band members.

Narrator: Manufacturing ice is just one of the many steps involved in getting food from ocean to plate.

Through the initiative, Wagmatook's Clean Wave Seafood restaurant has created a facility where patrons can not only enjoy the finest Atlantic seafood, but also have an opportunity to experience Mi'kmaw culture first hand.

Michael Bona: I think the restaurant is a showcase for the community. We can bring people in, showcase what the community can offer.

Robert Slade: The money they gave us for the renovation made it new and we hired more new staff and it's made a lot of difference.

Michael Bona: You know, it's a good way to promote the success of the community I think.

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