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Sablefish Advisory Committee
Draft Terms of Reference

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Purpose | Mandate | Guiding Principles | Structure | Membership
Roles and Responsibilities | Procedures | Recommended Code of Conduct
Appendix 1 - Recommended Qualifications of Representatives | Appendix 2 - Code of Conduct for Meetings of SAC

1. Purpose

The Sablefish Advisory Committee (SAC) provides formal advice and make recommendations to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) on operational decisions related to sablefish harvest in the Pacific Region.

SAC is a result of DFO's commitment in its Strategic Plan and other regional policies to improve decision-making in all fisheries by allowing greater stakeholder involvement in the management of fisheries and committing to an open, transparent and accountable consultation process. The committee will focus on operational issues such as implementation and development of the annual fisheries management plan and total allowable catch (TAC).

The SAC includes representation from the commercial sectors and other stakeholders (environmental and processors). The following terms of reference detail the principles, mandate and operational aspects under which the SAC will function. These terms of reference may change as required.

2. Mandate

There will be one, coast-wide SAC with a mandate to provide formal advice and make recommendations to DFO on operational decisions related to sablefish harvesting in the Pacific Region.

The primary focus of the SAC will be in development of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMP) with an emphasis on harvest management planning. The SAC members will also advise and provide recommendations to DFO on TACs, research programs associated with improved management and aid in development of long-term management strategies for the sablefish fishery.

The committee will also assist in communicating information between industry stakeholders and provide advice on financial arrangements and budgeting issues associated with funds contributed by industry to DFO for the management, monitoring and enforcement of the sablefish fishery. Industry funds are currently provided through a Joint Project Agreement with the Department and the Canadian Sablefish Association (CSA).

Specific advice will be sought with regards to:

  • decision rules for in-season management actions
  • fishery time frame, starting dates, and duration
  • measures and mechanisms for timely and accurate data on catch and effort in-season
  • review of post-season stock status to determine if conservation goals were met
  • problems encountered regarding the management or enforcement of the fishery
  • any management actions taken that did not follow the fishing plan or consultation process
  • any changes to the management or enforcement of the fishery that will improve the fishery in the future, and
  • the expected stock status and fishing opportunities for the coming year.

3. Guiding Principles

3.1. Respect for Process:

The Department should refer stakeholders and other outside parties who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice outside of the established process to SAC.

3.2. Transparent:

There will be transparency throughout the process based on open lines of communication and the provision of timely, accurate, accessible, clear and objective information. This information should be available to all participants in the process on an equal basis. Organizers should provide access to agendas and information needed as a starting point for informed discussion well in advance of meetings. In addition, this information will be posted to a public website to ensure accountability to all Canadians.

3.3. Accountable:

Participants of the SAC who are representatives of a constituency are expected to bring to the discussions the general views, knowledge and experience of those they represent, and bring back an awareness and understanding to their constituencies about deliberations of the consultation activity and reasons for decisions taken. All participants share accountability for the success of the process. The Department is accountable to participants for explaining how their advice/input was used and why and how decisions are taken.

3.4. Balanced Representation:

Representation on SAC should relate to the mandate and function of the committee. Participation should be fairly balanced and reflect a broad range of interests in fisheries and oceans issues in the Pacific Region, to the extent possible, so that a diversity of perspectives is involved.

3.5. Effective:

All participants should be satisfied that SAC can achieve the goals of the mandate. This does not mean that participants will always agree with the final advice, outcome or recommendation.

Processes must be cost-effective, and set and respect realistic timeframes.

3.6. Efficient:

The size of SAC must be kept to a number that facilitates consensus-based discussion. Wherever possible, links to other departmental consultative processes will be made to realize efficiencies in consultation.

3.7. Conservation and Sustainability:

Conservation will continue to be the first priority in managing Canada's fisheries resources. Stocks of fish must be managed in a sustainable manner to ensure a healthy viable fishery and contribution to the economy and society. Conservation of the sablefish resource will be considered first and foremost in all deliberations of the SAC.

3.8. Policy Objective

Established policies influencing and affecting sablefish management will guide the SAC in its deliberations. These include national and regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada policies such as Selective Fishing in Canada's Pacific Fisheries, the Pacific Fishery Monitoring and Reporting Framework and the New and Emerging Fisheries Framework.

Future policies that have relevance to harvest planning will be incorporated into the process when completed.

4. Structure

4.1. Balance and Representation

In addition to adhering to legal, fiduciary and policy parameters, it is important that the advice received by the Department reflects the experience and knowledge of a valid cross-section of commercial fishing interests, as well as First Nations interests. A balance of interests must be achieved while striving for a number of representatives from each interest that will be sufficient to provide valuable and effective advice, yet not so many as to make discussion unnecessarily difficult. The dialogue will be advice-driven, and knowledge-based rather than party-based.

Representatives will include members of the Canadian Sablefish Association (CSA), fishermen, processors and an environmental representative.

4.2. Economy and Efficiency

Membership numbers, meeting schedules, the use of technology and the use of experts will all be considered with the intent of keeping costs and inconvenience to a minimum while achieving effectiveness and efficiency in developing advice for sablefish harvest planning.

4.3. Transparency

There will be transparency throughout the process based on open lines of communication and the provision of timely, accurate, clear and objective information.

5. Membership

The SAC will be comprised of eight members (advisors) representative of a broad cross section of the sablefish industry, including but not restricted to:

  1. three members from the Canadian Sablefish Association (CSA): President, Vice President, and Executive Director
  2. two trap fishermen who will be determined annually by vote at the CSA Annual General Meeting
  3. one longline fisherman who will be determined annually by vote at the CSA Annual General Meeting
  4. one processor who will be determined by the other SAC members on a yearly basis, and
  5. one environmental representative who will be selected by the Marine Conservation Caucus on a yearly basis.

The sectors will determine their respective representatives. Each participant shall designate an alternate to attend on their behalf if they can not attend a meeting.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada participation will consist of:

  1. the Sablefish Co-ordinator
  2. the Groundfish Resource Manager, and
  3. a representative from Conservation and Protection.

A representative from the Stock Assessment Division will participate as an advisory only.

Other appropriate staff and experts, at the invitation of one of the chairs, may attend and participate based on the agenda being discussed. For example, a representative(s) from the Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee (GTAC) would be invited to participate in discussions on sablefish TAC.

The makeup of SAC may be reviewed to ensure that there is a balance of representation, while not exceeding an effective size.

The committee will be co-chaired by the DFO Sablefish Co-ordinator and the CSA Executive Director. Alternates may be nominated by the committee. SAC members may choose to send alternates, but in other than extenuating circumstances (e.g., illness, etc.) must formally notify either chair three working days in advance.

Observers will be permitted to attend meetings and only participate with the expressed consent of either chair or participate through an advisor. Time may be set aside at each meeting for members of the public to make representation, provide presentations to the committee or have written submissions read into the record.

Sub-committees and technical working committees may be struck as needed with the full agreement of the committee, but will normally be short-term and specific task oriented.

6. Roles and responsibilities

Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff will:

  • endeavour to refer stakeholders and other outside parties who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice outside of the established process to the appropriate advisory body contact,
  • deliver an in-season summary report to the advisors during meetings
  • post the final report to the Fisheries and Oceans Canada web site at:
  • work with the industry chair to determine agenda requirements for upcoming meeting(s).
  • during meetings, clarify the issues on which the Department is seeking advice,
  • avenues for providing advice on other issues, such as policy, will be suggested as required,
  • provide information, expertise and represent the public interest and policies of the Department.
  • ensure that senior managers and other staff that are linked to, or impacted by these processes are kept informed of the activities of the committee,
  • post the agenda and minutes from the meeting of the DFO Consultation Secretariat website upon approval from the SAC members, and
  • provide open and transparent feedback of recommendations and outline the reasons for decisions.
  • will forward the committee's recommendations as quickly as possible to the appropriate signing authority.

The Co-chairs will:

  • develop an agenda for each meeting, enforce ground rules, promote interaction and communication during meetings, and bring issues to closure,
  • prior to each meeting, send out a letter reminding each member of the upcoming meeting and outlining a tentative agenda, any feedback on the agenda should be provided to the Department 5 days prior to the meeting date,
  • distribute any material for discussion at scheduled meetings, including a draft agenda, with sufficient time in advance of the meeting to allow members to consult with constituents,
  • organize meetings and provide meeting space,
  • keep meetings on-time and focused on the agenda,
  • enforce the committee charter,
  • encourage active participation of all members,
  • mitigate conflict, and
  • help to summarize and focus discussion.

The Canadian Sablefish Association will:

  • take meeting notes and provide a written record of proceedings, including attendance, issues discussed and any action items or recommendations that result,
  • distribute written minutes to all members within three weeks of each meeting and make any appropriate changes, and
  • distribute the revised minutes to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for posting to their consultation website.

Sablefish Advisory Committee members will:

  • conduct themselves in a respectful manner during meetings (see Code of Conduct in Appendix 2).
  • represent information accurately and appropriately, consult with their constituencies, and keep their constituencies informed of the information and issues discussed at meetings, securing the support of their constituencies for issues discussed.
  • promote the process within their constituencies, and bring forward issues of concern or interest.
  • share the responsibility for the success of the committee, and
  • review records of meetings for accuracy and provide feedback within a limited timeframe, before those records are posted on the public website.

7. Procedures

The SAC will meet three to five times a year as needed. A pre-season meeting will be scheduled in March to review the provide on the TAC, review the current season and to start the IFMP planning process. SAC may hold more sessions to address specific issues.

The SAC will work toward developing recommendations and advice through consensus. Consensus is a process for making decisions, in this case decisions on what recommendations to put forward. without the requirement that formal votes be taken. Its main feature is that no action is taken unless all members of the group can support the action, or agree not to obstruct it. Consensus does not require that everyone be in complete agreement, but only that all will be willing to either accept a decision or withhold taking position against a decision. In reaching a decision no one should feel that his/her position on the matter was misunderstood or not heard. Consensus, through the most persuasive form of recommendation, is not essential for providing advice. When consensus is not possible, the committee will convey its recommendations and advice in a manner that communicates the points of view expressed by all its members.

Advice from the committee will be provided to the appropriate staff members within the department for input into the development of sablefish harvesting management plans.

Meeting materials, including documents to be discussed and agendas for meeting will be distributed to participants in advance of scheduled meetings. These documents, a summary of the meeting including action items, the membership, and terms of reference of the committee will be available on the Consultation Secretariat web site:

8. Recommended Code of Conduct

Individuals' rights to participate in consultation processes are accompanied by responsibilities. Parties that participate in consultation processes should do so in good faith and with the public interest in mind. Participants also have a responsibility to engage in effective, balanced and civil communication. All representatives have a responsibility to engage in effective, balanced and civil communication. All representatives have a responsibility to ensure that they are accountable to their constituents, that the government gets the information it needs to make a well-informed and balance decisions, and that the consultation processes operate as efficiently as possible. A recommended code of conduct is provided below. The Committee should with adapt the code or adopt a version modified to the mutual acceptance of all members.

Appendix 1
Recommended Qualifications of Representatives

Representatives to the Sablefish Advisory Committee will be recommended by their constituents, and as such constituents will ultimately decide on the qualifications of their representatives. However, the following suggests some qualifications that would be assets in representatives serving their constituents:

  • knowledge of policies related to management of the sablefish fishery,
  • active participant in the sablefish fishery,
  • knowledge of the elements of sablefish harvest management, including timing, gear options and interactions, data management and potential allocation issues,
  • ability to communicate with constituents, co-advisors, departmental officials and the public,
  • ability to seek consensus solutions, and
  • ability to effectively bring constituent's interests to the process while explaining complex issues and decisions back to constituents.

Appendix 2
Code of Conduct for Meeting of the Sablefish Advisory Committee

Participants in consultation processes should:

1.1. Maximize the exchange of information among parties and minimize misunderstandings by:

  • speaking clearly, listening carefully and asking for clarification if a point is not understood,
  • sharing information related to the issues at hand,
  • stating concerns about other participants or the process openly and directly, and
  • clearly explaining what is important to them and why, and
  • stating their perspective as concisely and briefly as possible, and
  • ensuring proper opportunity to clarify the agenda prior to the commencement of meetings.

1.2. Ensure that all participants have the opportunity to speak and all perspectives are taken into account by:

  • seeking the participation of all interests, and
  • providing opportunities for affected parties to be heard before making a decision.

1.3. Maintain a respectful atmosphere by:

  • respecting each others' values and interests,
  • avoiding accusatory language, rude behaviour and stereotyping,
  • listening to what others have to say without interrupting,
  • beginning meetings on time, and
  • seeking a better understanding of other perspectives with an open mind, and
  • leave personal views on particular issues "at the door."

1.4. Ensure accountability to constituencies by:

  • making every effort to attend all important consultation meetings, or sending an alternate as set out in the terms of reference,
  • establishing clear lines of accountability with those they represent, and with other representatives,
  • acting in accordance with the authority granted by constituents and ensuring that other representatives understand this authority,
  • communicating pertinent information to their constituencies regularly and seeking support for negotiated agreements,
  • acting quickly to raise and resolve any concerns regarding the accountability of the process or any of the representatives to protect the integrity and trust of the group.

1.5. When negotiating in a consultation process, facilitate agreements across the full spectrum of interests by:

  • negotiating in good faith, building as much agreement as possible,
  • avoiding participation in activities that may undermine the negotiation,
  • focusing on underlying interests or objectives rather than positions and seek to understand the interests of others,
  • recognizing the interests of others,
  • treating issues as problems to be solved not as personal or sector conflicts,
  • allowing representatives the freedom to test ideas without prejudice to future discussion or negotiations - do not hold tentative suggestions or agreements against those who made them,
  • seeking creative solutions that accommodate all interests, and
  • positively supporting consensus agreements once they have been reached.

1.6. Engaging in appropriate external communication by:

  • ensuring that descriptions of the process and the views of other representatives are accurate and acceptable to all representatives before communication them to the general public or the media, and
  • ensuring that contact with the media is respectful of others.