May 28, 2010
MONCTON (CNB) - Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet urged the federal government to provide stability to the industry through a new Fisheries Act. He appeared before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans today in Moncton.
"Stability in the industry starts with stability in access and allocations," said Doucet. "We feel this can be best achieved through modernizing the federal Fisheries Act. We are asking that the discretionary powers of the federal minister be circumscribed. It is time to take politics out of the equation and start focusing on sustainability and viability."
Doucet reiterated the need for the federal government to recognize and accept responsibility for the impact of a 63 per cent reduction in the snow crab quota for New Brunswick. The reduction meant losses of about $170 million to the provincial economy and has affected thousands of workers.
"Decisions by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans must take into consideration the viability of the entire industry, including the processing and marketing components," said Doucet. "The impact has not been limited to license holders. Processors and their workers, supporting industries, communities, and the entire province have felt the impact."
The provincial government has always supported quota-setting based on scientific evidence.
"Today I stressed the importance of responsible planning in light of the cyclical nature of snow crab," said Doucet. "Currently, there are too many boats for the amount of snow crab in the Southern Gulf, so we have asked for financial assistance to rationalize the harvesting sector."
He said that in the short term, the federal government has a duty to share in the responsibility for their decisions, and in the long term, the industry needs a new Fisheries Act to provide stable access and allocations.
"We must learn from our mistakes," Doucet said. "A systemic change in fisheries management is paramount to achieving a sustainable, economically-viable and self-sufficient fishery."
The snow crab industry generates the equivalent of 1,870 full-time direct and indirect jobs with annual exports valued at about $100 million.
MEDIA CONTACT: Katharine Sidenius, communications, Department of Fisheries, 506-457-3549.