On March 22 and 24, the 2023 edition of BC Young Fishermen's Network Gathering was held in Campbell River, Canada. About 80 fishermen and industry representatives came together to promote learning, networking, and growth opportunities for those starting in fishing.
The central theme of the event was to approach the fishermen's life and pass on the knowledge to the next generation of fishermen. So several generations participate in the meeting, from great-grandparents to children.
Moreover, in this edition the representation of the sector was huge. Fishermen from many fisheries, including salmon, halibut, geoduck, marine cod, herring, and urchin, were represented and shown to younger generations their work.
This year's program covered a variety of topics, including boat safety and funding options for indigenous and non-indigenous fishers, among other workshops.
However, this program also addressed one of the growing problems in the BC fishery, the average age of fishermen. In recent decades, the sector has continued to age, having serious difficulties in retaining workers under the age of 30.
One of the stories of the encounter features Becky Acheson. Becky grew up fishing, and now she's passing it on to the next generation, her children. From the Pacific Prowler -her boat-, Becky explained that she fishes salmon and halibut with her husband and three children. "In Salt Spring we're the lone fishermen", she said and that is why they came to the event. "There aren't a lot of young fishermen, so it's nice to get together with people we have things in common with and make sure you're on the right track," she said.
The BCYFN was started by the TBuck Suzuki Foundation in 2018 to empower the next generation. This project is about providing skill-building opportunities, access to industry experts, and events across the coast. Moreover, the BCYFN also works to increase public awareness by sharing the stories of young BC harvesters.