Creating a Future As Rich as Our Past.

Fisheries Business Provides Opportunities

Fisheries Business Provides Opportunities

Fishing stocks may have had their ups and downs over the years, but several opportunities spearheaded by the HFN Fisheries LP are providing important benefits to HFN citizens today.

One of several limited partnerships managed by the HFN group of businesses, the HFN Fisheries LP includes commercial fishing licences and quota that enable Huu-ay-aht citizens to stay connected to our ocean roots. These commercial fishing licences provide opportunities to harvest halibut, rockfish, salmon, and prawns. Additionally, the Fisheries LP holds assorted groundfish quota, eight clam licences, and a new wild oyster licence.

“Two of the salmon licences are fished by two different Huu- ay-aht fishermen,” says Kathy Happynook, administrator for Aquatrust, the non-profit society contracted to manage the fishing licences. “The halibut and groundfish licences are also fished by Huu-ay-aht fishermen.”

Francis Mickey is one of those fishermen, fishing halibut and rockfish from his 37-foot long liner, Tryon. “I’ve been fishing all my life,” Francis says. “My dad was a long liner so that’s how I started. It has been a long learning process, but well worth it for my family’s future.”

Oyster Harvest in Pipestem Inlet

For Francis, HFN licences are important, not only for his own career, but also for the opportunities they provide to all HFN citizens. “I hope to see more citizens become fishermen…so we can benefit fairly from all communal licences an quota,” he says.

A partnership with the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation provides opportunities for Huu-ay-aht harvesters.

Other fishermen involved in the Huu-ay-aht fisheries include Gary Billy, who fishes a salmon gillnet licence, and James Nookemus, who fishes a salmon troll licence. Each year, these Huu-ay-aht fishermen compete with non-Huu-ay-aht fishers for the privilege to fish the licences. “Being a Huu-ay-aht citizen is helpful during the bidding process, but our guys are very competitive,” says Kathy Happynook.

Other harvest opportunities under the HFN Fisheries LP extend to the shellfish industry. Currently the HFN group of businesses is exploring a new partnership with the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation (NSDC) known as the Local Gathering Initiative. Under this initiative, Tommy Joe, Mitch McPhee, and Larry Johnson spent two days harvesting approximately 7,400 pounds of wild oysters in Pipestem Inlet.

“The idea is to create opportunities for four to six people to harvest clams, oysters, gooseneck barnacles, and kelp throughout the year,” says Larry of the overall initiative. “We would like to market the products under the Nootka brand owned by NSDC for the six member nations.”

For the time being, the oysters will be sold through a partnership with Evening Cove Oysters Processing Ltd., a small company in Nanaimo. “They are helping us get into the branding of our product,” Larry says enthusiastically.

The harvest at Pipestem was the “first annual” wild oyster harvest for the HFN Fisheries LP, but Larry sees the business expanding and tapping into unique, high-end markets in the Lower Mainland and beyond. He notes that few people harvest wild oysters today. “It’s a small piece in a very big puzzle that we’re trying to put together by creating a vertically integrated seafood business.”

That seafood business is just one of the opportunities available to Huu-ay-aht citizens through the HFN Fisheries LP; and with staff and citizens working hard to expand and improve fisheries access and capacity, those opportunities will continue to improve.

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