June 28, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet returned last week from productive meetings with fish and seafood industry stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico.
"This was the first step in gathering the necessary information to organize a symposium on the impact such an oil spill might have on our fish and seafood industry here at home," said Doucet.
"We met with several stakeholders in the area, and without exception, they were welcoming, gracious and open to sharing their lessons learned."
Doucet, accompanied by Richard Brown, minister of environment, Prince Edward Island, met with government leaders and officials from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. As their guests for the day, the ministers were shown first-hand the broad impact of the oil spill on fisheries and wildlife.
Doucet also met with Harlon Pearce, chairman, and Ewell Smith, executive director, of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, to garner a better understanding of the challenges that the industry is facing in promoting their products.
"We share a similar philosophy with New Brunswick with respect to positioning ourselves with high-quality and sustainable products," said Pearce. "We can certainly shed some light on some of the lessons we have already learned from this disaster. We welcome an opportunity to come to New Brunswick to share our experiences."
Promoting fish and seafood, a key mandate for the Department of Fisheries, will be a central theme of the symposium.
The visit included several meetings with owners of oyster, shrimp and crab processing facilities. Doucet also had the opportunity to speak with fishermen about the situation.
"This visit was invaluable in helping us better understand the unforeseen effects on the industry," said Doucet. "Everyone with whom we spoke supported our efforts to prepare ourselves better for a potential disaster, and many volunteered to participate in the symposium."
Earlier this month, Doucet called on the other Atlantic provinces and the federal minister of fisheries and oceans to support plans for a symposium on the impact of marine oil spills. The visit to Louisiana was the first step to gather information and meet with potential stakeholder participants.
"Our next steps are to solidify the parameters of the symposium and to begin to work on details involved with planning such an event for the fall of 2010 or in early 2011," said Doucet.
The fish and seafood industry in the Atlantic region is responsible for more than $2.3 billion in exports.
MEDIA CONTACT: Katharine Sidenius, communications, Department of Fisheries, 506-457-3549.