Look­ing to in­crease habi­tat pro­tec­tion and In­dige­nous par­tic­i­pa­tion

Labrador har­vesters want to see ad­ja­cency ex­plic­itly in­cor­po­rated into reg­u­la­tions

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY THOM BARKER

A bill cur­rently be­fore the Cana­dian se­nate be­ing her­alded by en­vi­ron­men­tal and In­dige­nous rights groups doesn’t go far enough ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents com­mer­cial fish har­vesters in Labrador.

Bill C68 seeks to amend the Fish­eries Act and other laws to in­crease pro­tec­tion of fish and fish habi­tats. If passed, it will, among other things, also ex­plic­itly re­quire the min­is­ter to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the pro­tec­tion of In­dige­nous rights prior to mak­ing any de­ci­sions on fish­eries law and in­cor­po­rate tra­di­tional In­dige­nous knowl­edge into the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process.

In a brief pro­vided to the House of Com­mons stand­ing com­mit­tee on fish­eries and oceans, Alis­tair O’Rielly, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the North­ern Coali­tion (NC), noted the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mem­bers—which in­clude the Nu­natsi­avut Group of Com­pa­nies, the Torn­gat Fish Pro­duc­ers Co-op­er­a­tive and the Labrador Fish­er­men’s Union Fish Com­pany—gen­er­ally en­dorse the bill, par­tic­u­larly its pro­vi­sions for the pro­tec­tion of re­sources, but want to see ad­ja­cency specif­i­cally ad­dressed.

“There is no ref­er­ence to ad­ja­cency in Sec­tion 2.5, Con­sid­er­a­tions for De­ci­sion Mak­ing,” the brief stated. “This ap­pears to be a de­par­ture from past pol­icy ac­cord­ing high pri­or­ity to ad­ja­cency as a pri­mary fac­tor in re­source ac­cess and al­lo­ca­tion de­ci­sions. Through­out all south­ern re­gions of Canada, the ben­e­fits of re­source ac­cess, to all in­tents and pur­poses, are for those ad­ja­cent to fish­ery re­sources. This is not the case in Canada’s Eastern Arc­tic and Labrador Sea re­gions (NAFO Ar­eas 0 and 2), where roughly one-third of com­mer­cial fish al­lo­ca­tions are al­lo­cated to fish­ing in­ter­ests out­side the North.”

The gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador also ad­dressed ad­ja­cency in its brief while ap­plaud­ing the bill in gen­eral terms.

“We have al­ways main­tained that fish­eries man­age­ment de­ci­sions should be based on sound sci­en­tific ad­vice, and we sup­port in­cor­po­rat­ing ele­ments such as the ecosys­tem ap­proach and the pre­cau­tion­ary ap­proach, along with fish­eries sus­tain­abil­ity into the Act,” stated the doc­u­ment signed by Gerry Byrne, New­found­land and Labrador fish­eries min­is­ter. “We have also main­tained that de­ci­sions should re­spect and re­flect the rights of the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties ad­ja­cent to the re­source that have his­tor­i­cally de­pended on the fish­ery. We strongly be­lieve that the amend­ments to the Act must en­sure ben­e­fits from the fish­ery go to these peo­ple and to coastal com­mu­ni­ties.”

O’Rielly said the NC brief was not re­ceived by the com­mit­tee in time for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s con­cerns to be ad­dressed. The bill passed third read­ing in the House and was kicked up to the Se­nate on June 20 with no spe­cific lan­guage re­gard­ing ad­ja­cency. Nev­er­the­less, O’Rielly re­mained op­ti­mistic it would be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion at the reg­u­la­tory phase.

“It is hoped that our per­spec­tives may in­flu­ence the com­mit­tee mem­bers, the min­is­ter of fish­eries and oceans and de­part­men­tal of­fi­cials as reg­u­la­tions pur­suant to the act are de­vel­oped and im­ple­mented,” he wrote in an email to The Labradorian.

Bill C68 ful­fills a Lib­eral elec­tion prom­ise to re­verse laws adopted by Stephen Harper’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment in 2012 that re­duced reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers to in­dus­try.

While op­po­si­tion to the new leg­is­la­tion has been tepid, many in­dus­try groups fear in­creased pro­tec­tion for fish and fish habi­tats and en­hanced par­tic­i­pa­tion from First Na­tions will ham­per in­dus­try.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Prospec­tors and De­vel­op­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada (PDAC) also pro­vided in­put to the com­mit­tee.

“An un­pre­dictable, com­plex, and in­ef­fi­cient reg­u­la­tory regime will in­crease risk and de­ter in­vest­ment, and con­se­quently ex­ac­er­bate the wan­ing of Canada’s min­eral in­dus­try com­pet­i­tive­ness on the global scale,” stated PDAC in its sub­mis­sion. “Min­eral in­dus­try in­vest­ment is also par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to leg­isla­tive and pol­icy changes as such changes of­ten gen­er­ate uncer­tainty and un­pre­dictabil­ity.”

PDAC also hopes its con­cerns will be ad­dressed dur­ing the reg­u­la­tory process.

The bill was in­tro­duced and re­ceived first read­ing in the Se­nate June 20 be­fore Par­lia­ment re­cessed for the sum­mer. Sen­a­tors re­turn to work on Sept. 18.

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