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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good-Bye to the Historic Atlantic Fishery

It may sound like a doomsday mentality but the truth is what it is.

The End is Near for the fishing industry in Atlantic Canada. She's gone bye's she's gone!

This week the Parliament of Canada was set to debate the proposed adoption of radical changes to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) regulations that would see Canada sign onto a plan allowing member nations of NAFO far more control of fisheries management in the Atlantic off our shores than ever before.

The changes have been attacked by fisheries experts throughout Atlantic Canada, including several former high ranking personnel at Canada’s own Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) who have said the proposed changes will erode Canada’s ability to manage stocks inside its own waters and impinge on Canada’s sovereignty in North Atlantic waters.

Instead of listening to the pleading of experts in the area, or even proceeding with the planned 3 hour debate in the House that would have allowed some of those concerns to be expressed and captured on the public record the Harper government introduced a motion to halt the debate just 40 minutes in and now have plans to dispense with the Parliamentary vote altogether and simply adopt the changes.

It seems the deal is done, or soon will be, and with that decision the final nail in the coffin if the Atlantic fishing industry will be hammered home.

While DFO has itself been a master mis-manager of fish stocks over the years at least it’s answerable, to some degree, to Canadian citizens. NAFO on the other hand is not answerable to anyone in Canada and is known for intentionally allowing over fishing and turning a blind eye to illegal fishing activities off our coast.

One doesn’t have to look far to see where NAFO stands on fish stock protection. They have proven time and time again that they are either incapable of or unwilling to protect fish stocks wherever they wield their power. This was proven once again a couple of weeks ago when NAFO made the decision to allow a continuation of a shrimp fishery on the Flemish Cap just outside Canada’s 200 mile economic zone, contrary to the best scientific advice.

In a special meeting in London the organization decided against closing the Flemish Cap shrimp fishery in NAFO area 3M in spite of the fact that the NAFO Scientific Council had advised them that the stock has collapsed and that the fishery should be closed.

During a NAFO vote on the closure six member states supported a European Union proposal to simply reduce the allocated fishing days, a move that will accomplish nothing since the number of fishing days allocated in recent years have not been anywhere close fully utilized. The net result will see no real reduction in the amount of shrimp that will be taken from an already collapsed stock.

With the collusion of the federal government the new NAFO regulations will soon be adopted by Canada, giving the organization even more control over fisheries in the area and permitting them with an opportunity to someday dictate regulations inside Canadian waters as well. It seems that the time to wave a sad good-bye to the Atlantic Fishery and the serene outport way of life in many parts of the region is upon us.

It’s indeed a black day for all of us.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Canada is trying to get what they can from Nfld in case we bail out of Confederation? Securing their rights against us now. It's the only thing that pops in mind as there is no other rational reasoning to be so mean to Nfld on just about everything?

I know it's a bit far fetched, but anything Canada can lock in for itself, is a bonus for them not us

Patriot said...

That's always possible but I suspect the reason is much less speculative than that.

Canada is currently in trade negotiations with the EU, which forms most of the NAFO membership. This is more likely a way to appease the EU nations at the expense of Atlantic Canada.

It's been said many times before that Canada traded away fishing rights to improve trade relations in other parts of Canada. This is probably another example of that.