Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

April 12, 2007 12:31 ET

Canada's New Government Announces a New Approach to Canadian Fisheries

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland and Labrador--(CCNMatthews - April 12, 2007) - The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, today announced a series of measures and investments to address current challenges facing Canadian fisheries. These steps are intended to improve the economic viability of the fishing industry in Canada.

"I have spent much of the last year talking with fishers and listening to their concerns about the challenges facing their industry," said Minister Hearn. "What I am announcing today is an initial set of initiatives designed to respond to these concerns from across the country."

Measures and Investments

The Minister announced a series of measures that will benefit the fishery across the country. They include:

- An investment in Fisheries Science of $61M over three years to broaden ecosystem-based science to more fish stocks and incorporate the data and knowledge in fisheries management decisions.

- In its first budget, Canada's New Government introduced a $500,000 capital gains exemption for fishers, farmers and other small business owners. Budget 2007 expanded this amount to $750,000.

- A reversal of the previous government's decision to collect administrative costs for log books, gear tags and the at-sea-observer program.

- A Licence Fee Review to examine the relative cost of licence fees in different fisheries across the country and increase fairness. It will examine the whole approach with regard to how the government assesses licence fees.

- A Fishery Sustainability Checklist will be used to evaluate Canada's fisheries and how the management and related programs support sustainability based on the guidelines used by ecolabelling certifiers. This process is intended to place Canadian industry in a better position to demonstrate the sustainability of their fish and seafood products and to help industry maintain and enhance Canada's market share.

- Human Resources and Social Development Canada will provide an additional $500,000 to the Canadian Council for Professional Fish Harvesters to help the sector develop and implement a skills and training strategy for the Canadian fishery. This funding provides the Council with a platform from which they could contribute to advancing the Ocean to Plate approach within the industry. The Government is currently looking at other Oceans to Plate related funding proposals for this organization.

Measures for the Atlantic and Quebec

The Minister has been working with fishers to explore innovative ways to adapt to changing global market conditions and to encourage rationalization in the fishery. As each region's fishery is different, so too are the approaches for rationalization and restructuring that will be used.

In the Atlantic and Quebec regions, the Minister announced that it is his intention to work with fishers and stakeholders to bring permanence and stability to sharing arrangements by 2010. As well, the Department will undertake a study of the economic viability of the offshore Northern shrimp industry in Atlantic Canada.

Further announcements about the Fisheries Industry Renewal in Newfoundland and Labrador are being announced today.

Independence for Inshore Fleets in Atlantic Canada

The Minister also announced measures to preserve the independence of inshore fleets in Atlantic Canada's commercial fishery. These measures include a comprehensive approach to assist fishers to retain control of their enterprises. In most cases they eliminate "controlling trust agreements" and seek to enhance fisher's ability to access financing from traditional lending institutions, such as banks.

"I have long committed to eliminating trust agreements and other licence restrictions that undermined the independence of the inshore fleets," said Minister Hearn. "These arrangements compromise the ability of fishers to make independent decisions in their own best interests, concentrate the control of licences in fewer hands, and move the wealth generated from the fishery from those who actually fish."

The measures announced today have emerged from extensive consultations with Atlantic provincial governments and Quebec, inshore fishers and fishing organizations, processors and other stakeholders. There will be some flexibility consistent with the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Frameworks and where fleets are seeking it, and there are potential exemptions for those fleets which have, over the years, become significantly vertically integrated.

Next Steps

The elements of this announcement on economic viability for Canada's fishing industry are the result of months of consultations and discussions with the people most affected by the changes and improvements. There are other elements that are still in the process and the Government will be making further announcements as they become ready.

"I am proud of the work we have done together with the Canadian fishing industry," said Minister Hearn. "There is still more work to be done. One of the priorities will be moving ahead with the renewal of the legislative framework that governs the fisheries. It is my intention to encourage my parliamentary colleagues to allow Bill C-45 to go forward to the committee stage as soon as possible after the House resumes. Canadians, especially fishers, need to have legislation that supports stable, predictable and transparent decision-making."

Bill C-45 was introduced in the House of Commons on December 13, 2006. It awaits Second Reading and Committee scrutiny at which time stakeholders will have an opportunity to voice their support or concerns about the wide range of amendments to renew the current Act which is 139 years old.

Backgrounders related to this announcement are available on DFO's web site at the address below.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Sophie Galarneau
    Manager, Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications