VICTORIA -- Federal, provincial and territorial fisheries ministers agreed today to revitalize their working relationship. This builds upon work initiated when ministers met in Winnipeg last May.
The National Conference of Fisheries Ministers meeting was hosted by Honourable Dennis Streifel, B.C. Minister of Fisheries, and co-chaired by Honourable David Anderson, Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
"Provinces and territories emphasized that the fisheries resource is particularly important to provincial economies," Mr. Streifel said. " Provincial and territorial ministers stressed the need to improve the working relationship between the federal and provincial governments to ensure that provinces have an opportunity for meaningful input into fisheries issues."
"The fishery is an industry with a future. But one thing is certain above all else — the status quo offers no future at all. Not for the fishermen, and not for the fish. As stewards of the resource, we need to come together," said Mr. Anderson. "Simply put, if we are to meet the challenges currently before us, we need to adopt a more strategic coordinated approach to our fisheries and oceans sectors. This means finding common ground, identifying national priorities, and achieving shared objectives".
Ministers formed a working group of senior officials to develop ways to improve consultations and information sharing, and to identify opportunities where increased efficiency, effectiveness and streamlining can benefit both orders of government. Ministers will review the work of the group in January 1999. The working group will be chaired by the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Honourable Keith Colwell and Deputy Minister, Mr. Peter Underwood.
The meeting in Victoria represents a collective effort by Fisheries Ministers to make the annual forum more strategic by focusing on long-term issues of national and international importance, and to build on areas of shared interest and purpose.
Ministers received a presentation and update from the Canadian Responsible Fisheries Board, on progress toward the development and ratification of the Canadian Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing Operations. This industry-led initiative is designed to promote sustainable fishing practices and the conservation of Canadian fisheries. Work on the Code complements many of the initiatives already underway in this sector, and signals a new approach for fisheries management. Practical applications includes the use of selective fishing gears and practices, fishing protocols and new harvesting methods.
The next meeting of the National Conference of Fisheries Ministers will be held in Quebec City in October 1999.