About 100 communities on the Pacific coast and more than 1,000 in Atlantic Canada depend on the commercial fishery. Inland, fishing communities range from small lakeside settlements on the northern Prairies to substantial centres on the Great Lakes. Native communities on both coasts and inland pursue commercial fisheries, and Inuit have traditionally depended on fish or marine mammals for food and income.
The degree of reliance on the fishery varies but hundreds of communities, mostly small and rural, depend on the industry almost exclusively.
Fishing provides direct employment on boats and onshore. It also provides thousands more jobs for boatyards, trucking companies, and suppliers of all sorts.
Fish harvesters give their communities social stability and continuity. In passing down skills to their children, they also transfer a legacy of hard work and pride.
Fishing communities are facing challenges now. For some, the dropping numbers of boats and fish harvesters have eroded the economic base.
Some of those challenges include rising of costs for boats and licenses as well as operating costs. In part due to rising costs, some young people who traditionally would have entered the fishery are seeking other careers.
Still, fishing communities are finding ways forward. Some harvesters are adding value to their fishery by using new approaches to harvesting and marketing. Some communities are branching into other businesses such as tourism.
Fish-harvesters organizations reach into the great majority of fishing communities. By sharing information, setting goals, and developing strategies, organizations are helping move their communities towards a productive future.