Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

September 01, 2005 11:30 ET

DFO/Minister's Response to the Final Report of the Advisory Panel on Straddling Fish Stocks

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 1, 2005) - Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today released the final report of the Advisory Panel on the Sustainable Management of Straddling Fish Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic.

"The management of straddling fish stocks, especially on the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks, is a highly complicated issue," said Minister Regan. "On behalf of Minister Pierre Pettigrew and myself, I want to thank the members of the panel - Arthur May, Derrick Rowe and Dawn Russell - for their analysis and efforts to shed light on possible solutions for this long-standing problem."

The Advisory Panel was mandated to provide advice to the Minister on how to reduce overfishing and avoid ecological destruction of straddling stocks in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area (NRA) and achieve sustainable use of the oceans. It was also tasked to present recommendations on how to strengthen coastal state rights in the management of straddling fish stocks off Canada's east coast.

To complete its work, the panel consulted government, industry, experts and related stakeholders and invited written submissions and electronic comments by interested Canadians.

The final report is available at A Ministerial statement responding to the report's recommendations is attached to this news release.



Managing fish stocks that straddle the jurisdictions of coastal States and the high seas is a complex issue - especially on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. There are direct impacts on marine ecosystems both within and outside Canada's 200-nautical-mile limit - and, more intimately, on the livelihoods of many Atlantic Canadians involved in the fishing industry. WorWking with our partners around the world to ensure healthy and sustainable fish stocks remains one of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's top priorities.

More than a year ago, Canada embarked on an aggressive strategy to combat over fishing and improve how fisheries are managed on the high seas. As part of this initiative, last December I announced the creation of a three-member Advisory Panel to provide advice on how to reduce overfishing and avoid the ecological destruction of straddling fish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Regulatory Area.

Today, on behalf of Minister Pettigrew and myself, I am pleased to release the Panel's final report to the public.

I want to thank the Panel members - Arthur May, as Chair, Derrick Rowe and Dawn Russell - for their hard work to meet this ambitious mandate. I appreciate their efforts. They have shed light on possible solutions for this long-standing problem through their research and thought-provoking recommendations.

Canada supports and has already undertaken many of the Panel's recommendations as part of our strategy to improve international fisheries governance. The Government has committed to enhanced monitoring and surveillance. We've made investments in science. We're also actively leading the reform of regional fisheries management organizations, including NAFO, based on the commitments made at the Governance of High Seas Fisheries and the United Nations Fish Agreement conference that was hosted by Canada in St. John's last May.

I recognize that there will be considerable interest in the Panel's recommendation to replace NAFO with a new regional fisheries management organization (RFMO).

Modernized RFMOs are essential. I agree wholeheartedly with the Panel that the way straddling stocks in the NAFO Regulatory Area are managed is in dire need of change - and that change is needed now. While the Panel's suggestion of replacing NAFO may respond to the frustrations of some Canadians concerning the management of straddling and other high seas fish stocks, we believe that reform of the organization would achieve much of the same objectives. Canada is already on the path of NAFO reform, and we are making progress. We don't want to derail this momentum. But, as I've noted in the past, all options must continue to be on the table to ensure healthy and sustainable fish stocks.

Canada remains committed to continue working with all NAFO partners to fundamentally review and renew this organization. We will also continue to use our current multilateral approach to reform, which takes into account other interests at the NAFO table.

All members of NAFO will have an opportunity to further strengthen their commitment to change at the annual meeting in September. I hope that this meeting will produce the next steps to transform the organization into a modernized and more effective fisheries management body that works for all of our nations.

While this organizational change cannot be achieved overnight, I am determined to see measurable progress in the short term. It's not about words at the table - it's about results on - and in - the water.

There is already a discernable global shift in international attitudes toward the management of high seas fish stocks. The desire for fundamental change is clearly evident in the St. John's Conference Ministerial Declaration, which demonstrates a high level of international political will to modernize the regional organizations that manage high seas fisheries.

At the recent North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers' Conference, members committed to move forward on the changes required to improve NAFO and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission and report back on their progress at next year's conference.

This active international support is very encouraging. We value our relations with all of our international partners, and we want to continue working with them to translate our shared commitment for change into reality. For example, both Spain and Russia recently demonstrated their commitment to conservation and enforcement by recalling vessels after they were issued citations by Canadian NAFO inspectors. Canada also has a standing invitation from Spain to observe port inspections when vessels return after their fishing trips. These may seem like small steps to some, but it reflects a fundamental change in our relationships with NAFO partners.

The current, multilateral path for NAFO reform has international backing. Several NAFO members support Canada's objective to conduct a major overhaul of the organization. They also share Canada's goal of a well-functioning and effective RFMO.

In Canada, the Government is spending $15 million annually to continue enhanced surveillance and monitoring of the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. This ongoing funding is supported by the Panel.

Canada is also spending $20 million over the next three years to build a coherent and integrated strategy for international fisheries and oceans governance - and to support new scientific research on the Grand Banks ecosystem. These activities are consistent with recommendations in the Panel's report.

Furthermore, I agree with the Panel's recommendation to work with the fishing industry to explore business-based solutions to overfishing. Clearly, we all have a vested interest in ensuring strong, sustainable fish stocks.

Through these and other initiatives, I will continue to work in Canada and around the world toward sustainable fish stocks and strong fishing industries that can benefit responsible fishing nations for generations to come.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Phil Jenkins
    Media Relations
    (613) 990-7537
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Sujata Raisinghani
    Office of the Minister, Press Secretary
    (613) 992-3474