Hupačasath has benefited from the salmon resources for thousands of years.Traditionally the Hupačasath were a sea-going people and utilized all sea resources down the inlet and through Barkley Sound and beyond and continue to do so today. Hupačasath traditionally fished in the Tsuumaas (Somass) River and the Barkley Sound.
But we have been at a disadvantage where the fish processors make more money than the fisherman. And the commercial fishery became more and more challenging to get into, which lead the Hupačasath to develop a company that involves more of our people in the fishery and the process.
Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) wants to include First Nations in the commercial fishery. The Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI) is designed to increase First Nations’ access to the commercial fisheries in British Columbia (BC) by:
- developing common and transparent rules that apply to all participants
- improving the management of the commercial fisheries through greater collaboration among stakeholders
The Hupačasath First Nation saw the opportunity to develop a commercial fishing business. The corporation is in partnership with the DFO and its PICFI program.
PICFI was aimed at achieving environmentally sustainable and economically viable commercial fisheries that provide increased opportunities for First Nations involvement. The $175-million program was originally slated to run between 2008 and 2012, but has been extended as part of the 2012 federal budget and Economic Action Plan.
With the creation of Tsuumaas Seafoods, we are taking up more of the value added chain in the commercial fishery and providing employment to our people. We buy fish from our own fisherman, sort it, weigh it, ice it and transport it and then send it to the processors.