Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

September 21, 2007 12:59 ET

Statement by Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Upcoming NAFO Meeting

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2007) -

As Canada prepares to enter another Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) meeting, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate the principles that will guide the Canadian delegation.

Canada's New Government earned a tremendous victory on behalf of all Canadians at last year's NAFO meeting. Major improvements were made to the rules, which now require vessels caught with serious infractions, like misreporting, to leave the NAFO Regulatory Area (NRA) immediately, and steam into port for an inspection.

Under the old system, vessels caught were issued a ticket, akin to a warning, that may or may not have ever resulted in any real punishment. When you look at lost fishing opportunity, the cost of fuel to leave the NRA, and the wages of crew members who are no longer fishing, these new rules have created a system where crime does not pay.

There have also been improvements to the objection procedure, which would prevent countries from unilaterally setting their own quotas and fishing as much as they like.

It's important that Canadians understand that while media attention is focused on NAFO during its annual meetings, our government's efforts to stop overfishing continue every day. Canadian aerial surveillance and increased on-board vessel inspections continue to be sustained at high levels. Additionally, Fisheries Conservation Ambassador Loyola Sullivan and I recently travelled to Spain and Portugal, where we had respectful, but direct, discussions with my international counterparts.

These efforts are paying off. For example, infractions on the water in 2007 are at an all-time low. Countries like Spain are levying significant fines, and Canadian inspectors regularly observe offloading at port inspections.

This year we will aim to build on our strong foundation at NAFO, and strengthen various areas within the NAFO rules and regulations. I have made it clear time and time again: Canada will not accept any proposal that weakens our ability to manage fisheries within our own 200-mile limit. This will not even be considered.

I have watched with curious amusement as some people who were responsible for the creation and implementation of the old, failed NAFO system speak out. Unfortunately, they are 30 years too late. Perhaps if they had been so diligent in raising concerns when they were being paid by the Canadian public to do so, our stocks might not be in the shape they are today.

Next week's NAFO meeting will come and go, and I am optimistic that we will build upon last year's success. During and after the NAFO meeting, Canada's New Government will be working to ensure our hard fought reforms are fully implemented, and that Canada is now taking its role as a global leader in fisheries management.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Genevieve Gareau-Lavoie
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister