Atlantic Council of Fisheries Ministers Meeting


QUEBEC CITY, Quebec, April 13, 1999 -- The Atlantic Council of Fisheries Ministers (ACFM), composed of ministers responsible for marine and inland fisheries for Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Nunavut and the federal government, met today in Quebec City.

At the meeting, Ministers agreed that the ACFM would be the primary forum for discussion of Atlantic fishery issues. The ACFM made a commitment to using the same collaborative approach discussed at yesterday's meeting of the National Conference of Fisheries Ministers (NCFM). The Ministers also agreed on the need to meet twice a year, in the spring and fall.

"The East Coast fisheries will be best served by governments working together to develop management strategies that ensure the long-term sustainability and conservation of fishery resources," said Mr Anderson. "The future lies in sound conservation measures, which are the best tools to ensure the economic viability of the industry."

Ministers also discussed the decision-making process for Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs). IFMPs provide the opportunity for stakeholder, including provinces and the Nunavut Territory, input into decisions about how fisheries are managed. A timely and efficient IFMP process will benefit all involved, and will help achieve conservation objectives. The Atlantic ministers declared themselves very satisfied with Mr Anderson's approach.

Ministers noted a recent decision by the European Union's Council of Fisheries Ministers to establish a quota of 4000 tonnes on cooked and peeled shrimp for which duty rates will be reduced. While this may improve the competitiveness of Canada's shrimp in the EU market, Ministers also stressed the need to seek reductions on the remaining shrimp exports to the EU.

Emerging fisheries and the opportunities presented by fisheries diversification were also discussed. The Emerging Fisheries Policy, which came into effect in 1997, establishes the requirements that must be met and the procedures that must be followed before a fishery can be initiated. The Ministers are of the view that emerging fisheries can contribute to the development of a diversified fishery that is conservation-based, economically stable, and self-reliant.

Minister Anderson outlined his department's management measures and science initiatives in relation to the seal hunt. He emphasized that while a lot of work is ongoing, many questions remain that will require further scientific study. The representative from Newfoundland impressed upon Ministers the importance of the seal industry to his province, and the need to determine a satisfactory population level for the seal herd. The Nunavut delegation expressed the importance of seals to the northern way of life and Minister Colwell of Nova Scotia expressed concerns about the increasing gray seal population along the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia. Minister Anderson advised that a regulatory review related to the industry is underway, with a national forum of stakeholders to be held in May in St. John's.

The PEI Minister called upon the federal Minister to provide information on the evolution of allocation principles as they apply to northern and gulf shrimp resources. Ministers Gay of New Brunswick and Trudel of Quebec stressed the need to incorporate historical shares as a vital part of the allocation principles that guide fisheries management decisions for the Atlantic coast.

Other topics discussed at the ACFM meeting were the Licence Retirement Program, the Historical Share Exercise, and the mandate of the Fisheries Resource Council of Canada.

"The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the discussions and the decisions reached during the day, which recognize the need for increased involvement of the provinces and the Territory of Nunavut on issues of importance to their communities," said Minister Trudel.

- 30 -