The first hard-copy output from the panel, Charting Our Course, was an early indicator of a successful collaborative effort. Considerable attention was placed on ensuring effective input by DFO staff throughout the drafting process led by the M&C Panel. The final document captured much of the current Departmental thinking and the broad approach proposed by the Panel with respect to the need for and approach to improved fisheries monitoring. Ultimately, however, it became clear to senior Departmental officials that the establishment of a policy-oriented document was the role of government. The importance of the Charting our Course as the ‘foundation’ for the subsequent Departmental policy document was clearly reiterated by DFO’s Regional Director General and by the close alignment of the two documents.
To a person, the panel members also acknowledged the process benefited enormously by taking the process out onto the fishing grounds. Several field trips to active fisheries helped build cooperative relationships among panel members, and importantly, afforded a detailed look at the monitoring and compliance issues relevant across interests and sectors. Panel excursions to Port Alberni and the Fraser River (2009 and 2010) and associated workshops allowed participants to learn more about each other’s fisheries and programs, and specific challenges each faced. These trips reinforced the need to improve confidence in each other’s numbers, and helped immensely toward the overall goal of improving programs in general.
A public meeting co-hosted in 2009 by the Fraser River Salmon Table Society, the Chehalis Indian Band, and the ISDF also highlighted ways to build trust in one-another’s catch accountings. The meeting also helped foster best practices in the salmon fishery through dialogue and collaboration and a better common agreement on monitoring and compliance needs. The event received significant attention from the press and was well publicized with invitations to regulators and fishing interest organizations and the general public.
A specific focus on conflicts in the fisheries was also considered as a milestone in the collaborative work. A Peacemakers Training/Conflict Resolution workshop was a pioneering attempt to resolve some of the long-standing ‘sore points’ that have arisen over the years in the Lower Fraser. Some of the outcomes of that gathering are re-iterated in more detail in Section 6 (Compliance) below, and more details can be found in the ISDF report.