The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans released a discussion paper recently, titled “The Future of Canada’s Commercial Fisheries”. It makes no mention whatsoever of two policies that have formed the basis for the Atlantic fisheries for decades.
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I would like you to read what what the Government of Nova Scotia has to say. This is a Ministerial Statement and Motion from Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau, himself a fisher for several decades:
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about concerns regarding the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the future of the owner/operator and fleet separation policies. These policies have been the cornerstone of the Atlantic fisheries for over 30 years. They have helped protect the independence of our coastal communities, and in the process they have helped create and maintain good jobs. That is why the DFO discussion paper, The Future of Canada’s Commercial Fisheries, and its failure to address these policies have caused such a negative reaction within the fishing industry across Atlantic Canada.
Last week I read a resolution asking all members of this House to join in my government’s support of the owner/operator and fleet separation policies. I want to commend and thank the members of both Opposition Parties for voting in favour of this motion. Today I am asking the members for their continued support on this issue and to commit that we all work together in support of the many fishing organizations across Atlantic Canada.
Minister Ashfield in the Harper Conservative Government must clarify their position on the owner/operator and fleet separation policies and provide more time for fishers and fish harvesters to be properly consulted on this issue.
Today is the time to deliver a strong and unified message to the federal minister. I want every community, every politician, every fish harvester, and every independent fisherman across the province to hear my message: this government, this Premier, and this minister will stand up for our inshore, independent fishers and make sure any future DFO policy has their best interests at heart.
When I was first elected in 2006, young fishers did not have access to capital to purchase licences. Today I can say with pride that our loan board is the envy of other Atlantic Provinces and is helping to protect the independence of our fishers now and into the future.
In recent days my government has demonstrated our commitment to rural Nova Scotia that previous governments have lacked. By moving departmental headquarters to rural communities, we are creating good jobs where they are most needed and where they make the most sense. At a time when the federal Conservative Government is eliminating jobs in rural Nova Scotia, our government is working to grow rural economies. That includes protecting the independence of our inshore fleets.
Mr. Speaker, as a former fisherman myself, I understand the challenges the industry faces. I was around in the 1990s when the cod moratorium took effect, and I witnessed the economic devastation it caused. Fortunately, independent fishers are resilient and they quickly adjusted their focus to shellfish species, mainly lobster, crabs and shrimp. Today these species are becoming the economic engines of our coastal communities. So when the fishing industry approaches me as minister and says there are potential federal changes coming that could negatively affect or impact our coastal communities, I, and all members of this House, have an obligation to express our concerns to the federal minister in order to protect our independent fishers.
Mr. Speaker, the future of Canada’s commercial fisheries does not include owner/operator and fleet separation policies and our coastal communities face serious problems. Without these policies, one of Nova Scotia’s enduring symbols – the fishing village – could disappear in front of our own eyes. The absence of these policies would not only harm fishers but also the many processors who depend on a steady supply of fish to operate their plants.
Mr. Speaker, the evidence is clear and the industry has spoken. Fishermen want and demand that any future federal policies protect the independent fishers in coastal communities. They have also requested time, that is time to do the right thing and have a fair consultation process over the future of a commercial fisheries discussion paper. So in a few moments my critics will pass judgment on my comments. As I look across the Chamber, I can’t help but reflect on my grandfather and my father who fished in Cape Breton communities in their lifetime. Today, it is not uncommon for fishers from Cape Breton communities to join our families and fish in southwestern Nova Scotia.
My point, Mr. Speaker, is that the fisheries is a province-wide resource and on this issue we need a province-wide response. So with that in mind, I humbly request that we send a clear and united message to Ottawa, the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and all elected politicians: We in Nova Scotia support our independent fishers and stand by them and the protection of our coastal communities. This is the legacy that I want my government to leave for Nova Scotians.
RESOLUTION NO. 277
HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU « » : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas for more than 30 years the federal owner/operator and fleet separation policies have been the cornerstone of Nova Scotia’s fishery; and
Whereas by protecting the independence of our inshore fleets, these policies have helped create and maintain good jobs in coastal communities across this province; and
Whereas the absence of these two policies in the current DFO Future of Canada’s Commercial Fisheries discussion paper has caused widespread concern from groups that represent fishers across Atlantic Canada and elsewhere;
Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly join our NDP Government in pledging their support for the owner/operator and fleet separation policies and in asking Minister Ashfield to clarify his federal government’s position on these policies while also providing additional time to consult more thoroughly with fishers and other affected individuals who rely on the fisheries for their livelihood.
Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate.
MR. SPEAKER « » : There has been a request for waiver.
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.