Government of Canada

Government of Canada

November 02, 2007 19:08 ET

Ministers Endorse Integrated Watershed Planning and Action on Eco-Labelling

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Nov. 2, 2007) - Integrated Watershed Planning and Management was the theme of the day-long meeting of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) in Winnipeg today. The meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Loyola Hearn, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Christine Melnick, Manitoba Minister of Water Stewardship.

Ministers heard from experts in the area of integrated watershed planning. They agreed that all jurisdictions have a role to play in sustainable fisheries and aquatic habitat management along with Aboriginal groups, a broad range of stakeholders and the public.

"Today's meeting was a reminder of how important it is that we work together to protect and preserve our water resources," said Minister Hearn. "Our government understands that water is central to the health and well being of all Canadians, our environment and our economy. That is why the Speech from the Throne reiterated our commitment to continue taking action and working with others to make real and continuous progress on water-related issues."

"Watershed planning processes are strengthened through partnerships among local communities, producers, businesses and all levels of government," said Minister Melnick. "I am delighted that fisheries ministers across the country recognize the great potential for improved aquatic habitat health via locally-driven collaborative approaches."

Ministers also looked at the fishery through a lens of economic viability. Oceans-to-plate is about focussing on the needs of the market and enhancing value - rather than volume - for all players up and down the seafood value chain. Eco-labelling is one component of that strategy and a topic of lengthy discussion today. With over 80% of Canadian seafood being exported and consumers increasingly aware of sustainability issues and food safety, eco-labelling is emerging as a priority for all levels of government. Ministers established a new task group on eco-labelling to ensure governments are ready to better support industry in the certification process and to ensure a consistent approach across Canada.

"Canada has a very good story to tell when it comes to how we partner with the provinces and territories to manage our fisheries resources," said Minister Hearn. "We now need to better organize ourselves to tell that story to the world."

Ministers tasked officials to continue to work together to protect species at risk and reduce the significant threat of aquatic invasive species on fisheries and aquaculture resources, and to protect the long-term health of Canada's three oceans. Ministers also discussed the work of the aquaculture task group and agreed that Canada's aquaculture industry has made great strides but has yet to realize its full potential. They therefore tasked officials to rapidly develop proposals for: a coordinated governance and regulatory framework for the industry; related research, development and commercialization, infrastructure and stewardship.

Ministers were also apprised of recent efforts to address misperceptions about the Canadian seal harvest and to ensure markets, especially European markets, remain open to Canadian seal products. The economic value of the sealing industry is significant for Canada's coastal communities - in 2006 it was estimated to be worth more than $60 million. Ministers undertook to work together to get the message out that the annual Canadian seal harvest is well-managed, sustainable and humane.

All Ministers encouraged the federal Minister to table in Parliament as soon as possible a new and modernized Fisheries Act.

The CCFAM meets annually to set priorities and work collaboratively on fisheries and aquaculture issues of interest to Canadians. The next meeting will be in New Brunswick in 2008.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Genevieve Gareau-Lavoie
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications
    Government of Manitoba
    David Leibl
    Press Secretary to Cabinet