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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NL News Release - Custodial Managment

The following news release was issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture this week. It speaks volumes about the total mismanagment of fish stocks happening off our shores.

Fisheries and AquacultureSeptember 28, 2009

NAFO Ignores Scientific Advice: Further Proof of Need for Custodial Management

The Provincial Government is disappointed with the results achieved by the Government of Canada at the recent meetings of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). The meetings were held in Bergen, Norway, from September 21-25. The province had hoped that the Federal Government would better represent the interests of Newfoundland and Labrador and achieve appropriate conservation measures that would protect stocks off the coast of this province.

The voting members of NAFO once again ignored scientific advice related to a number of stocks including Greenland halibut, 3M cod and redfish, and 3LNOP white hake and skate. These stocks, which straddle the 200 mile limit are located on the east coast of the island on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and at the Flemish Cap. Ignoring scientific advice in the NAFO zones outside the 200 mile limit negatively impacts stocks which are harvested by Canadians inside the 200 mile limit.

“Clearly, the approach of the Federal Government is not working,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. “This is another demonstration that it will always be problematic for Canada to have to vote with 11 other countries to gain protection of fish stocks off our shores. Once again, we are provided with proof of the need for a system of custodial management to manage fish stocks that straddle the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks.”

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has recommended two years in a row that there be a 15 per cent reduction in the total allowable catch (TAC) for Greenland halibut. This was in line with the advice of the NAFO rebuilding plan agreed to in 2003. Despite this, NAFO has maintained the TAC at 16,000 tonnes for 2010.

The 3M cod stock has been under moratorium since 1999. The NAFO Scientific Council recommended a TAC of 4,125 metric tonnes. Despite this, a TAC of 5,500 tonnes has been established for 2010. NAFO members voted in favour of this, including the Government of Canada.

“Clearly, we cannot even trust our own Federal Government to pursue outcomes consistent with scientific advice,” said Minister Hedderson.

The TAC for 3M redfish will increase from 8,500 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes. Again, this is against the advice of the NAFO Scientific Council, which recommended keeping the quota at current levels for 2010.

The Scientific Council had also expressed concerns over 3LNOP white hake stocks and recommended a TAC of 850 tonnes. This was the average catch in recent years. NAFO agreed to decrease the quota from 8,500 tonnes to 6,000 tonnes in 2010.

The TAC for 3NLO skate will decline from 13,500 tonnes to 12,000 tonnes. The Scientific Council had recommended a TAC of 6,000 tonnes.

“The scientific evidence indicates that we need to be concerned about the future of many stocks that our industry depends on,” said Minister Hedderson.

“Our government is particularly concerned with the results of the 2008 shrimp survey and the dramatic decline in biomass estimates. If these trends continue, the decline in biomass and quotas will have a significant impact on the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. This demonstrates the need for better conservation.”

The Federal Government’s approach to addressing the situation on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks has been to work for changes in NAFO.

“Custodial management is the only viable solution,” said the minister. “Furthermore, our government continues to ask the Federal Government to reject the proposed amendments to the NAFO convention, which seriously threaten Canada’s ability to protect fish stocks inside the 200 mile limit.”

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Media contact: Lori Lee OatesDirector of CommunicationsDepartment of Fisheries and Aquaculture
709-729-3733, 690-8403
2009 09 28 1:50 p.m.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Has Stephen Harper Outwitted Himself?

With an electoral axe about to fall in the Nation’s capital, or more accurately upon Stephen Harper’s political neck, Conservative strategists may have finally outwitted themselves in their hunger for national domination.

Faced with the prospect of a Liberal sponsored non-confidence vote the Conservatives are floating the idea of forcing Michael Ignatieff’s hand. They hope to do this by tabling a confidence bill of their own when the House resumes. The Conservatives believe this will allow them to set the agenda for the election and make it appear that Mr. Ignatieff, should he vote against the bill, is standing in the way of Canada's economic recovery.

Here’s how the diabolical plan is supposed to play out.

The Liberal party plans to table a non-confidence motion at their first opportunity – an opposition day in early October – the Conservatives on the other hand plan to table a ways and means bill on the first day the Commons reopens, September 15th. That bill would officially implement the hugely popular and much publicized “Home Renovation Tax Credit”, so many Canadians have already bought into spending countless millions in the process.

Conservative strategists believe that by forcing the Liberals to vote against that particular bill they can paint the opposition as killing the stimulus program, of damaging the economy and of costing individual taxpayers up to $1,300 in rebates many are counting on this spring.

As a purely political move it’s ingenious. The question is whether it will backfire.

Clearly Prime Minister Harper has no inhibitions when it comes to his political ambitions. This is nothing new. In previous years Mr. Harper has shown that he’s willing to ignore signed agreements by stripping money away from provincial coffers without so much as a second thought (consider the Atlantic Accord contract as an example).

Mr. Harper is now proving his willingness to not only pull a fast one when it comes to cryptic programs like equalization that are outside the understanding of the average voter but to reach directly into voter's pockets by gambling with tax refunds which many taxpayers have already spent thousands of dollars in the expectation of receiving.

I’m not so sure that’s a wise move on his part.

There’s an old saying that “all politics is local” and you can’t get much more local than a voter's back pocket.

The question for voters to ask themselves, should an election come to pass, is which political leader is truly the most harmful to the economy?

Think about it. If you’ve already spent thousands of dollars, believing that you would get a sizeable portion of that money back, are you more or less likely to curb your spending over the coming months now that you have been told you may never see a dime of what you were promised?

On the other hand, if you’ve yet to spend a penny on home renovations are you more or less likely to do so now that Mr. Harper has put the “Home Renovation Tax Credit” up for grabs in a self serving political game?

For most Canadians the answer to both of those questions is pretty clear.

So which leader is the most harmful to the economy?

Is it really, as Mr. Harper would have us to believe, Michael Ignatieff, a man most of us know very little about? Possibly.

Or is it the current Prime Minister, a man who, by using the “Home Renovation Tax Credit” as a self-serving political hammer may well have single handedly done more to stifle discretionary consumer spending than the economic downturn itself?

Remember, even if the opposition parties rise to the bait and kill the rebate bill, if even temporarily, it was Mr. Harper who self servingly put that program on the chopping block and raised the axe high into the air.