OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - March 6, 2014) - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council today expressed their support for Private Member's Bill C-555 to amend the Marine Mammal Regulations, introduced by MP Greg Kerr. The proposed amendment would increase the distance that any unlicensed observer must maintain from a person who is fishing for seals, from one-half nautical mile to one nautical mile.
If passed, Bill C-555 would strengthen the Canadian seal harvest by providing a safer operating environment and reducing the potential dangers of interactions between seal harvesters and unlicenced observers during a seal harvest. The added distance will give enforcement personnel more time to react to individuals who may attempt to disrupt the harvest. Given the harvest is conducted on ice floes, reckless disruption or protest activity may put sealers and observers at risk.
Licenced observers will continue to be able to monitor Canada's commercial seal harvest. The application process already provides officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans the opportunity to assess the level of risk prior to issuing the licence.
- Private Member's Bill C-555 was introduced on November 27, 2013. The first hour of debate at second reading is scheduled to take place in the House of Commons today (March 6, 2014). The second hour of debate and vote to send the Bill to Committee will occur this spring.
- If passed, the Bill would require the Governor-in-Council to amend sections 32 and 33 of the Marine Mammal Regulations. The Governor in Council would retain his discretion to modify, through the regulatory regime, future amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations.
- The Marine Mammal Regulations regulate matters with respect to the management and control of fishing for marine mammals and related activities in Canada or in Canadian fisheries waters.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada regulates the Canadian seal harvest to ensure it is conducted safely, humanely and sustainably.
- The Canadian seal harvest continues to be an important economic and cultural activity in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Arctic.
"As my colleagues debate the merits of Bill C-555 in the House of Commons today, I encourage them to support this Bill which will help to strengthen our management of the Canadian seal harvest, while improving the safety of everyone involved. Canada's seal harvest is internationally recognized as being extremely well regulated. We will continue to ensure that it is managed in a sustainable, open and transparent manner," said Minister Shea.
"Our Government continues to stand up for Canadian sealers and the humane, sustainable seal hunt. This Bill, introduced by my colleague, will help ensure everyone's safety during the seal harvest by giving distance between sealers and unlicensed observers," said Minister Aglukkaq.
Learn how Canada regulates the Canadian seal harvest to be safe, sustainable and humane (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/facts-faits/facts-faitsd-eng.htm).
Read about the myths and realities of the Canadian seal harvest (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/myth-eng.htm).
Listen to the testimony of a Canadian seal harvester (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/video/video12-eng.htm).
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