Co-operative Fisheries Limited (CFL) was created in 1959 by an Act of the Saskatchewan Legislature to provide fish processing, marketing and other services to northern Saskatchewan fishermen, mostly of First Nation and Métis descent. CFL initially was a transitional organization, created out of an existing provincial Crown corporation (the Saskatchewan Fish Marketing Service) and, as part of the northern co-operative development program of the CCF provincial government, was mandated to become a true co-operative. Through the 1960s CFL had fish sales of about $1.5 million a year, with about eighteen local fishermen’s co-operatives as members, which in turn had about 1,500 member producers. In 1966 its debt to the provincial government was repaid in full, and several government-appointed board members were replaced by elected fishermen board members. In 1971, CFL became a true co-operative, being fully owned and controlled by its members.
When CFL experienced financial problems in the 1970s, its functions were taken over by a federal Crown corporation, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC). Members decided to dissolve CFL in 1981. They used their share capital to set up a lobbying group, the Saskatchewan Commercial Fishermen’s Co-operative Federation Limited (SCFCFL), and in 2003 nine locals remain active, marketing through FFMC. The impact of CFL was significant both economically and socially: CFL was not only a source of millions of dollars of revenue for northern people as fish producers and fish plant workers, it was also a training ground for democracy, a vehicle through which people participated in making decisions related to managing their business and resources.