Social Finance Tools Offer Solutions to Atlantic Canada’s Fishing Communities | Ecology Action Centre

Social Finance Tools Offer Solutions to Atlantic Canada’s Fishing Communities

Halifax, NS - November 12, 2013 - Social Impact Investing for Sustainable Fishing Communities, a new report issued by the Ecology Action Centre (EAC)’s Marine Program, delivers options to preserve fishing licenses within fishing communities resulting from a 2013 EAC workshop on social finance implementation in Canada and the United States.

“We wanted to explore models for alternative financing for fishing communities, and most importantly, we hope it catalyzes a much needed conversation about how to address challenges facing fishing communities in Atlantic Canada, particularly regarding new entrants and maintaining the access to fish,” says Susanna Fuller, Marine Conservation Coordinator at the EAC.

Atlantic Canada is home to 10,000 independent fishing enterprises. In 2011, these fisheries produced $1.8 billion in landed value of seafood, 75% going directly to independent fishermen and their communities. Owner-operator fisheries are Atlantic Canada’s largest private sector employer.

"Social finance and community investment are relatively new concepts. The experience in sectors like housing and agriculture show that social finance schemes could provide capital for new entrants on reasonable terms and ensure that fishing jobs and incomes remain in Atlantic Canada’s fishing communities," says Marc Allain, Facilitator and Research Associate for the Canadian Fisheries Research Network

The report recommendations follow from specific case studies as well as discussions with representatives of fishing communities who participated in the workshop:

  1. Use new and existing financial mechanisms for community investment, such as Nova Scotia’s Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF), to retain ownership and access to fisheries resources.
  2. Community-based fishermen, farmers, foresters, investment experts and others should share lessons about community resource management and natural resource-based industries.
  3. Fishing associations must be directly involved in financial planning.
  4. Fishing groups must be actively engaged in market development and marketing to increase the value of community fisheries and support fishery businesses.

The report Social Impact Investing for Sustainable Fishing Communities is available here.

For more information contact:

Dr. Susanna Fuller, Marine Conservation Coordinator 902-483-5033, 902-446-4840
Mark Allain, Facilitator and Research Associate for the Canadian Fisheries Research Network 819-360-4845


Notes to editors:

Participants in the workshop included the Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels (FRAPP), Community Quotas and Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association, the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, and the Snow Crab Quota Consolidation on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Other attendees represented New Dawn Enterprises, Farmworks Investment Co-op, The Future of Fish, The Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, and the Pacific Coast Fishing Conservation Company and Ecotrust Canada.  

Social finance addresses social or environmental challenges while generating financial return through grants, debts, loan guarantees, deposits and equity investments as direct investment into Community Development Corporations, Community Loan Funds, Local Investment Clubs, Alternative Financial Intermediaries, Local Exchanges, and Sustainable Tax Credits. Social finance requires a whole system of interconnected actors committed to long-term investments. For more information on Social Finance visit the website of MaRS Centre for Impact Investing at

Nova Scotia’s Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF): A CEDIF is a pool of capital, formed through the sale of shares within a community, created to operate or invest in local business to finance economic development. For more information on Nova Scotia’s CEDIF program visit the website

A license bank is a cooperative ownership structure that allows fishermen or communities to pool licenses and quotas to achieve greater benefits than they would at the individual level. It works by holding licenses and/or quota that is then leased back to members, at reduced or fair trade cost, improving the economic viability and securing access for members.

Specific next steps in which the EAC will be involved include reaching out to fishing associations and fishing communities for capacity building on the use of social finance tools and/or license or quota banks to preserve ownership and access to fisheries. This work links closely to EAC’s work on developing local and regional value chains across the small-scale seafood industry in Atlantic Canada.  

For more information and to contact EAC on our Social Finance project:
Candice Kanepa, Community Fisheries Coordinator, EAC,
2705 Fern Lane, Halifax, NS B3K 4L3
Ph: (902) 446-4840

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