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Groundfish Hook and Line Advisory Committee (GHLAC) terms of reference

1. Mandate

The Groundfish Hook & Line Advisory Committee (GHLAC) provides a forum for communication between the groundfish hook and line industry and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In particular the Committee will:

  1. Improve communication exchange between the industry and the Department.
  2. Advise on the development of annual management plans for the groundfish hook & line fisheries.
  3. Advise on the development of long term management strategies for the groundfish hook & line fisheries.
  4. Provide information and advice regarding biological research for all species caught in the groundfish hook & Line fisheries.
  5. Advise the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the use of discretionary penalties against groundfish harvesters caught violating the rules and regulations of the groundfish hook and line fisheries.
  6. Recommend groundfish hook & line representatives to other advisory bodies as required.

2. Guiding Principles

The following principles will be used to guide decisions on how this Committee is structured and operates:

Respect for Process:

All participants will respect the process established for the role and conduct of advisory structures in general and this Committee in particular. The GHLAC is not intended to duplicate, supplant or interfere with other consultation processes within Fisheries and Oceans Canada or fisheries related processes associated with domestic or international treaty agreements. The Department should refer stakeholders and other outside parties who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice outside of the established process to the appropriate advisory body contact. The Department will also inform the GHLAC of any solicited advice it receives and the appropriate GHLAC members of any unsolicited advice it receives.


There should be transparency throughout the process based on open lines of communication and the provision of timely, accurate, accessible, clear and objective information by both the Department and the participants. 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. This information will also be posted to a public website to ensure accountability to all Canadians. In addition, all Committee meetings will be open to the public, and observers can attend, but not participate unless requested by the Committee. Time may be set aside at each meeting for members of the public or observers to engage with the Committee.


Participants 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.

Broad Representation:

Representation on the Committee should relate to the mandate and function of the committee. Participation in advisory processes should 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.


All participants should be satisfied that the process 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.


The size of the Committee 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.

Respectful Participation:

Participation in advisory committee processes involves responsibilities. Members participate in good faith. Members of the Committee will establish an operating environment that promotes and supports civil and productive discussions.

3. Organizational Structure

Advisors will be selected to represent specific stakeholders and will be responsible for keeping their constituents informed. The Groundfish Hook & Line Advisory Committee will be inclusive of the following interests:


Participant observers:


Each of the interests noted above will be represented by:

Participation by the federal and provincial government as participant observers will be determined on an as needed basis. The Committee can invite people to participate when appropriate.


Each member can identify an alternate, who can attend all meetings, but only participate when the member is absent. Alternates must be well informed about GHLAC agenda topics and represent interests that are consistent with the member that they are representing.

Selection of Members and Alternates

The nomination or appointment of members and alternates for the above interests will be as follows:

The identification of Participant Observers will be as follows:

Terms of members

Elected and appointed members will serve for a three-year term.

Ad-Hoc Working Groups

The Committee may convene ad-hoc working groups comprised of members, alternate members and other perspectives it determines may be required. In all circumstances where the GHLAC agrees that an Ad-hoc working group is to be instituted the Committee will develop written terms of reference, including a timeline for the Ad-hoc working group that details the task to be undertaken and reporting requirements. Ad-hoc working groups will report only to the Committee.

If, the GHLAC agrees that an ad-hoc working group is to be instituted, the Committee will develop written terms of reference, including a timeline for the working group that details the task to be undertaken and reporting requirement.


The Groundfish Hook & Line Coordinator will chair this advisory committee.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Committee will:

  1. Conduct meetings consistent with its terms of reference, and the committee charter;
  2. Establish an annual action plan consisting of a schedule of meetings and anticipated agenda items;
  3. Develop advice taking into account Departmental policies, the views of the interests represented on the Committee, and supporting data and documentation where possible.
  4. Provide advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department;
  5. Fully explore all matters on its agenda in a manner that seeks to understand and where possible accommodate, the interests of all concerned;
  6. Review and provide feedback on records of meetings before those records are made publicly available;
  7. Review its terms of reference and engage in an evaluation at the completion of every two years.

The members will:

  1. Clearly articulate the interest and concerns of their interest group and incorporate them into the Committee's discussions;
  2. Contribute to clarifying perspectives and concerns in all discussions by listening carefully, asking pertinent questions and educating themselves regarding the interests of other members whether or not they are in agreement with them;
  3. Encourage and allow members to test tentative ideas and exploratory suggestions without prejudice to future discussions;
  4. Keep their constituencies informed of the role of the Committee;
  5. Obtain the input and guidance of their constituencies on the issues of discussion at meetings;
  6. Encourage the support of their constituencies for consensus positions developed by the Committee;
  7. Represent information, views and outcomes of Committee discussions accurately and appropriately; and
  8. Share responsibility for the success of the Committee.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff will:

  1. Respect the process by referring stakeholders and other outside parties who offer unsolicited recommendations and advice outside of the established process to the appropriate Committee members;
  2. Respect the process by informing the Committee of any solicited advice the Department receives;
  3. Provide logistical support for scheduling, preparing agendas, securing facilities, copying materials, managing discussions and drafting summary minutes of Committee meetings;
  4. Present information to the Committee that enables it to engage in informed discussions on the issues for which the Department is seeking advice, or that the Committee has included on its agenda;
  5. Identify when issues are impacting upon the Department's legislative, policy or program mandates;
  6. Communicate the outcomes of the Committee deliberations, including both common positions and diverging perspectives, to other staff, other programs, senior managers, and the Minister as appropriate; and
  7. Provide updates on how the Department responds to the advice received during Committee meetings in a timely, open and transparent manner that outlines the rationale for the Department's response.

The Province of BC will:

  1. Respect the process by referring stakeholders and other outside parties who offer recommendations and advice outside of the established process to the appropriate advisory body contact;
  2. Identify when issues are impacting on the province's legislative, policy or program mandates;
  3. Communicate the outcomes of the Committee deliberations throughout the provincial ministry; and
  4. Respond to questions and requests for information arising from the deliberations of the Committee in a timely manner.

4. Procedures

Consensus-based Advice

The Committee will strive to develop consensus-based advice on the issues it discusses. Consensus is a process for making decisions, in this case, decisions on what advice to put forward, without the requirement that formal votes be taken. Its main feature is that no common position is claimed 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 accept - consent to - a decision. In reaching a decision no one should feel that her/his position on the matter was misunderstood or that it was not given a proper hearing.

When consensus is not possible, the meeting minutes will reflect the points of views of all the members of the Committee, and the Committee's views will be conveyed in a manner that communicates the points of view expressed by all its members.

Agenda Setting

Two (2) weeks prior to each Committee meeting a draft agenda will be circulated containing the proposed agenda items for that meeting. These items may be identified at the conclusion of any previous meeting of the Committee or via communication from any member of the Committee to the DFO Chair. A one (1) week comment period will allow members to note any agenda item where there may be outstanding concerns. Draft agendas will be reviewed, revised and adopted by the Committee members at the beginning of each meeting.

In the event that unforeseen issues arise after the draft agenda has been circulated these unforeseen issues may be added to the agenda at any given meeting if there is consensus to do so. It is recognized that the members may agree to include these unforeseen issues on the agenda of subsequent meetings or conference calls.


The Committee will meet at least once a year to consider the annual management plan. The Committee may meet by conference calls as required and agreed upon. Extraordinary meetings not anticipated in the annual meeting schedule may also be convened as agreed upon.

Funding and Costs

The Department will generally only provide funding to cover logistical expenses of meetings, coordinate the distribution of materials, and pay for travel of departmental responsibility of committee members. Treasury Board guidelines do provide for Regional Director General discretion in providing funding for advisory committee participants, other than that described above.

Minutes of Meetings

DFO will ensure that a note-taker is present at each meeting of the Committee. Minutes of meetings will be prepared containing a summary of the issues discussed, the wording of consensus-based decisions and advice, action items, and an update on actions taken in response to the advice provided by the Committee.

An electronic/email process will be used to review and approve the minutes of meetings as follows:

  1. The minutes of meetings will be distributed to all members within 3 weeks following each meeting
  2. All members will have 2 weeks from the date the minutes were distributed to provide initial comments and edits.
  3. Revised minutes of meetings will be redistributed to all members no later than 2 weeks following the initial comment period.
  4. Each interest will then have 2 weeks to provide its approval of the minutes of meetings via email.
  5. In the event that there are any outstanding issues with the content of the minutes at this point a final revision of the minutes will be circulated noting what the outstanding issues are, and each interest will have 1 week to provide its approval.
  6. Final minutes, acknowledging any outstanding issues, will be made available at the next meeting of the Committee as an information item only.

Evaluation/Periodic Review

The Committee will review the terms of reference at the start of every three (3) year terms and engage in an evaluation of the issues that have emerged throughout that time period, how effectively the mandate is being fulfilled, and the effectiveness of the consensus process.

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