Fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion

Fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter vis­its P.E.I. to gauge chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DAY jday@the­guardian.pe.ca

The P.E.I. fish­ing in­dus­try did not net any fund­ing dur­ing the new fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter’s first of­fi­cial visit to the prov­ince Thurs­day.

Fish­eries and Oceans Min­is­ter Hunter Tootoo was here Thurs­day to gather in­for­ma­tion, not hand out cash.

“I haven’t made any de­ci­sions one way or the other,’’ he said on just how much fed­eral as­sis­tance will be in­jected into the fish­ing in­dus­try here.

“The goal of this trip for me is to get out here and meet all the stake­hold­ers, the gov­ern­ments and ev­ery­body to find out what their is­sues and what their con­cerns are so I can take that in­for­ma­tion back with me.’’

Tootoo’s in­tro­duc­tory tour of At­lantic Canada as the coun­try’s fish­eries min­is­ter brought him to the Is­land Thurs­day where he met with sev­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the prov­ince’s com­mer­cial fish­ing in­dus­try, in­clud­ing the P.E.I. Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion and seafood pro­ces­sors, as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the P.E.I. Aqua­cul­ture As­so­ci­a­tion.

He also met with Premier Wade MacLauch­lan and P.E.I. Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Min­is­ter Alan McIsaac.

Tootoo said he is ea­ger to build on his dis­cus­sions of a “num­ber of im­por­tant top­ics’’ at the Cana­dian Coun­cil of Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture min­is­ters meet­ing next week in Mon­treal.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that I hear first hand about the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges that will help us move for­ward to­gether to achieve ev­ery­one’s com­mon goal,’’ he said, speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in a pro­vin­cial govern­ment build­ing in Char­lot­te­town.

“As an Inuit, I know how vi­tal fish­ing is to fam­i­lies, small coastal com­mu­ni­ties and the en­tire is­land of Prince Ed­ward Is­land to its econ­omy and its way of life.’’

McIsaac said he wanted to im­press on Tootoo the need to shore up the short­fall in fish pro­cess­ing work­ers in P.E.I.

“The need to have work­ers for our plants, that’s the big thing right now, and the changes to the Tem­po­rary For­eign Worker Pro­gram is of great con­cern to us,’’ said McIsaac.

“We have a lot of fish that we need to process.’’

MacLauch­lan noted the prov­ince is work­ing closely with the in­dus­try to ad­dress the work­force short­age to help en­sure get­ting “those prod­ucts to mar­ket in a timely and time sen­si­tive way.’’

The premier was re­cep­tive to Tootoo’s call to build an eco­nom­i­cally pros­per­ous fish­ing in­dus­try while pro­tect­ing the health of marine and fresh­wa­ter re­sources for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

MacLauch­lan said the prov­ince looks for­ward to work­ing closely with the min­is­ter on the en­vi­ron­ment, cli­mate change and adap­ta­tion.

“We on Prince Ed­ward Is­land are very com­mit­ted to work­ing on that with you and look­ing for ways that we can be cre­ative and col­lab­o­ra­tive here in Prince Ed­ward Is­land so that Canada can be a world leader in ad­dress­ing those crit­i­cal is­sues,’’ he told Tootoo.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Premier Wade MacLauch­lan looks on as fed­eral Fish­eries and Oceans Min­is­ter Hunter Tootoo ad­dresses the me­dia dur­ing a visit to P.E.I. Thurs­day. He says his man­date is “to work with the provinces, ter­ri­to­ries, in­dige­nous peo­ples and other stake­hold­ers to bet­ter safe­guard our three oceans.’’

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