Action, not more rec­om­men­da­tions needed to re­build fish­ery

The Compass - - OPINION -

Dear ed­i­tor,

The fed­eral Min­is­ter of Fisheries Gail Shea has

man­dated the FRCC (Fisheries Re­source Coun­cil of Canada) to con­duct an ex­am­i­na­tion of the con­di­tions and con­sid­er­a­tions for a sus­tain­able At­lantic Cana­dian ground fish fisheries (em­pha­sis on cod).

There are 19 mem­bers on the FRCC. They are hold­ing meet­ings in 25 lo­ca­tions in the five At­lantic prov­inces be­tween April 6 and May 4. The fed­eral min­is­ter has re­quested the FRCC de­velop a long-term strate­gic ap­proach to the sus­tain­abil­ity of the At­lantic ground fish fisheries and the con­ser­va­tion of the re­source.

There are sev­eral ques­tions one is prompted to ask the min­is­ter in light of the ex­tremely high cost of pro­duc­ing the in­for­ma­tion re­quested on our ground fisheries (em­pha­sis on cod) in this lat­est man­date to the FRCC.

Firstly, it is dis­turb­ing to note that in 2004 the FRCC un­der the di­rec­tion of ex­pe­ri­enced lead­er­ship and a group of high cal­i­bre per­son­nel con­ducted a sim­i­lar re­quest from the DFO Min­is­ter with the em­pha­sis on cod and made a detailed re­port con­tain­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for its re­cov­ery and con­ser­va­tion. That 20-page doc­u­ment is avail­able for all to read and to note that prac­ti­cally ev­ery one of those well­re­searched rec­om­men­da­tions by the FRCC were ig­nored by DFO.

In­cluded in those rec­om­men­da­tions was spe­cific ref­er­ence to the over pop­u­la­tion of seals and an es­ti­mate of the high mor­tal­ity of cod due to its food re­quire­ment. It was re­mark­able but also dis­turb­ing to hear one of the FRCC mem­bers com­ment­ing on a re­cent ra­dio broad­cast that “the over pop­u­la­tion of seals is a fac­tor that must be dealt with” in re­gard to the re­build­ing of the cod re­source. This great pro­nounce­ment af­ter 18 years since the mora­to­rium was de­clared against Cana­dian fish­er­men is a bit dif­fi­cult to take. Es­pe­cially so when 20 NAFO for­eign na­tions con­tinue to fish with im­punity out­side the 200-mile limit.

To fur­ther il­lus­trate the lack of co­or­di­na­tion, ded­i­ca­tion and lead­er­ship within DFO to­ward re­build­ing of the ground fisheries one should be re­minded of the much-her­alded Cod Action Teams that were es­tab­lished in con­junc­tion with the East­ern Prov­inces in Au­gust 2003. Three action teams were es­tab­lished led by the direc­tors gen­eral of the re­gions in the Mar­itimes, Que­bec and New­found­land and Labrador. The Gov­ern­ment of Canada and the Gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador formed the Canada New­found­land and Labrador Action Team for Cod Re­build­ing, led at the fed­eral level by the Depart­ment of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and provin­cially by the New­found­land and Labrador Depart­ment of Fisheries and Aqua­cul­ture. This Action Team was man­dated to de­velop a stock re­build­ing and long-term man­age­ment strat­egy for the four ma­jor cod stocks ad­ja­cent to the prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador.

On Nov. 14, 2005, the Cod Re­build­ing Strat­egy Re­port was pre­sented to the At­lantic Coun­cil of Fisheries and Aqua­cul­ture Min­is­ters (ACFAM) for their re­view. The ACFAM ap­proved the release of the Re­port, not­ing that it rep­re­sents an im­por­tant step to­ward the re­build­ing of At­lantic cod stocks, but that con­sid­er­able work has yet to be done, in­clud­ing anal­y­sis of some of the rec­om­men­da­tions and de­vel­op­ment of an im­ple­men­ta­tion plan.

What has been ac­com­plished as re­sult of th­ese two in­ves­ti­ga­tions? Should the min­is­ter now halt this present FRCC ex­pen­sive process and thor­oughly re­view the rec­om­men­da­tions that have al­ready been sub­mit­ted? As a re­sult of an 18-year mora­to­rium, isn’t it about time the Gov­ern­ment of Canada as­sumed its re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­build the huge re­source we de­liv­ered to Canada in 1949, which they have mis­man­aged in such an as­ton­ish­ing man­ner? Hav­ing lost 80,000 of its fish­ing pop­u­la­tion and about 25,000 di­rect and ser­vice jobs in this prov­ince’s fish­ing in­dus­try as a re­sult of doc­u­mented fed­eral mis­man­age­ment isn’t it about time the Min­is­ter of Fisheries and Oceans im­ple­mented mea­sures to re­build our fisheries?

Canada must take what­ever steps are nec­es­sary to stop the for­eign over fish­ing now tak­ing place out­side 200 miles that con­tin­ues through di­rect fish­ing or by­catches of cod, tur­bot, floun­der and other ground fisheries. Im­ple­ment Cus­to­dial Man­age­ment, which was com­mit­ted to by the prime min­is­ter and for­mer DFO Min­is­ter Hearn in pre-elec­tion speeches. Bring a halt to the in­fra­struc­ture de­te­ri­o­ra­tion tak­ing place, in re­cent years in the DFO North­west At­lantic Fisheries Cen­tre at the White Hills and be­gin that process with the reestab­lish­ment of a cred­i­ble fisheries sci­ence ca­pac­ity since it is the most im­por­tant el­e­ment of a ground fish re­build­ing strat­egy. Gus Etchegary

Chair­man Fisheries Com­mu­nity Al­liance

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