Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

September 17, 2007 16:55 ET

Statement by Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada's Atlantic Fishery

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 17, 2007) - Canada's New Government believes that it is important to get things done for the fishing industry and the "Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada's Atlantic Fishery (PIIFCAF)", which I announced last April, is another example of our results-oriented approach.

The announcement was done following extensive consultation with fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada and was part of a suite of measures to enhance competitiveness and economic viability of fish harvesters and coastal communities.

These new measures demonstrate how our new Government is taking steps to ensure that these groups will have greater control over the fishery and will help to ensure that fish harvesters can be entrepreneurs rather than employees. These policies are based on a basic principle that the value, wealth and control of fishing licences should be in the hands of harvesters. This belief is shared by the vast majority of fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada.

In adopting the measures I announced on April 12, we closed some loopholes in these policies by phasing out "controlling trust agreements" - arrangements whereby fish harvesters entered into agreements giving someone else control over their licences. This practice has always been against DFO policy and Canada's New Government has taken action for fishermen to correct the problem.

We are moving forward on this and other initiatives to improve the competitiveness of Canada's fishery, but want to see a minimum of disruption to fishermen. We understand that there are some fleets that are virtually vertically integrated, and we are willing to show some flexibility in working with them to do what makes good business sense. Six such fleets have already been provided with exemptions.

Other harvesters who are in controlling trust agreements have been given seven years to remove themselves from these arrangements, or else they will not be eligible to obtain independent core status nor hold licences.

My department has met with the Coalition for an Economical Atlantic Fishery who sponsored the recently-released Gardner Pinfold report on this matter. We are willing to work with this group and others as we move forward with fisheries reforms.

Consistent with a new focus on competitiveness and economic viability, we will work where appropriate with fleets to change licencing policies so we allow fish harvesters to hold more than one licence, or to combine enterprises. We are also working to give traditional lending institutions more confidence in providing access to capital for fish harvesters.

It is also important to recognize that if circumventing licensing policies helped someone to get ahead in the past, there will be implications for them when a government enforces those policies.

Independent fish harvesters in Atlantic Canada have told us that they need assurance that their licences will remain in their own hands. I am confident that these policy measures and related reforms will benefit Atlantic Canada's fishermen and their communities.

Contact Information

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