Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 23, 2006 12:18 ET

Statement By Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Hearn Welcomes Proposed UN Resolution

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 23, 2006) - Officials wrapped up intense negotiations at the United Nations on a sustainable fisheries resolution. This resolution deals with many issues that are important to Canada; particularly, stronger actions to combat illegal fishing and protect straddling fish stocks.

The issue that received the most attention concerned discussions about the best ways to deal with the effects of bottom fishing.

Going into these discussions, Canada made its position clear. We were looking for practical, enforceable and fair ways to protect vulnerable areas of the ocean, while allowing responsible fishing to continue. We have also been working with other UN members to have a realistic agreement with measures that could be respected and implemented by all participants.

I'm pleased that the Canada-Australia joint proposal broke a deadlock last night. The consensus resolution will be going forward now to the United Nations General Assembly for adoption. The resolution includes strong conservation measures to prevent negative impacts of bottom fishing on sensitive areas in the oceans. These measures would be implemented by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and countries that fish on the high seas.

The resolution outlines in real terms what responsible fisheries management means in relation to vulnerable areas. For example, the measures on seamounts that Canada fought for at the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization meeting would now be the standard practice for RFMOs. It also means basing decisions on sound science, using the precautionary approach, and restricting fishing activities in sensitive marine areas. And, if we can't adequately protect these vulnerable areas, it simply means not fishing there.

These measures are enforceable because RFMOs have the legal authority to enforce conservation measures, and fishing nations have the legal tools to control the actions of their fishing vessels. In areas of the high seas that are not regulated by RFMOs, the measures that fishing nations adopt would be publicly available so these countries are accountable for the actions of their vessels.

Finally, this resolution is fair because responsible nations will fish responsibly on the high seas, which is as it should be. It is also fair because measures would be transparent; with nations encouraged to name, shame, isolate and pressure those who don't respect the rules.

I am proud of these results and the role played by Canada in bridging the wide range of views to get consensus on this UN resolution. The measures show how Canada's New Government is working with the international community to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and manage fisheries sustainably.

The Honourable Loyola Hearn
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Michelle Brazil
    Press Secretary
    613-992-3474