OTTAWA, November 26, 2004 – The Atlantic Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (ACFAM) met today in Ottawa. This meeting of Ministers from the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Nunavut was co-chaired by Françoise Gauthier, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for Quebec and the Honourable Geoff Regan, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
“This meeting gives the provinces and Nunavut an opportunity to discuss with the federal government issues of mutual concern and to work towards finding mutually agreed upon solutions, in the spirit of the interjurisdictional agreement” said Minister Gauthier. “Collaboration between the federal, provincial and territorial governments is essential if we are to successfully address the many challenges facing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors today.”
A Policy Framework for the Management of Fisheries on Canada’s Atlantic Coast was released in the spring and Ministers discussed important next steps in fisheries renewal. DFO is moving to modernize the way it manages the fisheries to ensure the sustainability and international competitiveness of the industry. This may include legislative changes to the Fisheries Act. It is also important to minimize conflicts through long-term stability in access and allocation. Provincial and territorial Ministers raised the challenges they face and discussed the importance of considering the processing sector. Ministers reaffirmed they will continue to work together – along with industry and other stakeholders – to create the conditions needed for a viable and self-reliant industry.
Ministers agreed that an early announcement of fishing plans and management measures should be made to allow fishers, processors and stakeholders to prepare harvesting plans with a view of maximizing the value of their quotas.
Ministers discussed implementation of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), expressing concern over potential additions to SARA of some aquatic species and the potential impacts these listings could have on commercial fisheries and other affected groups. Ministers emphasized the need to maintain close collaboration between federal, provincial and territorial governments and industry and all stakeholders, to ensure that all potential impacts, including environmental and socio-economic, are properly assessed before decisions are made on whether to list aquatic species such as cod and cusk.
Among the items on the agenda at today’s meeting was an update from each of the three federal-provincial cod recovery teams established in 2003. Ministers directed officials to ensure that the required linkages between the cod recovery process and SARA are established.
“Work is already underway with the provinces, in consultation with industry and other stakeholders, to address the recovery and the long-term sustainability of these cod stocks and I am pleased with progress to-date,” said Minister Regan.
The work being done by the cod recovery action teams will lead to the development of recovery strategies and long-term management plans for cod. The teams’ efforts will be coordinated with the government’s efforts related to the implementation of SARA. Broad consultations will be undertaken with various stakeholders and the public in the coming months.
Ministers reviewed plans to strengthen the federal/provincial/territorial relationship in aquaculture, a shared jurisdiction, through the development of a comprehensive Framework Agreement on Aquaculture. The agreement could cover issues such as roles and responsibilities and cost-sharing arrangements for aquaculture programming and be flexible enough to reflect provincial and territorial programs and policies. Ministers also agreed to strengthen efforts to build a National Aquatic Animal Health Partnership.
“Today we reaffirmed our commitment to move forward together on issues affecting the future of the Atlantic fisheries and aquaculture sectors,” added Minister Regan. “We directed our officials to be ready to report on progress in April 2005, when Ministers next meet.”
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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Minister of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food for Quebec
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Abdoul Aziz Niang,
Policy and Analysis Branch
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for Quebec
(418) 380-2100 ex# 3386