GATINEAU, Quebec — The Atlantic Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (ACFAM) met today. Two priority items were on the agenda: the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review (AFPR) and cod stocks of concern.
Developed over the past three years after broad-based consultations, the policy framework of the AFPR is nearing completion. The Ministers had an opportunity to discuss the Atlantic Fisheries draft policy framework. It is intended to serve as the foundation for the long-term sustainable management of the Atlantic fisheries. The second phase of the collaborative AFPR process will focus on developing and implementing plans and programs to put policies into operation. Further discussions will take place at future meetings.
The Ministers also agreed to work together to conserve and protect cod stocks and to help each other in examining the social and economic impacts of resource problems on Atlantic communities and fishery participants.
“This was an important meeting to share preliminary information and views on cod issues. It was our first chance to plan ahead together. Before decisions can be made about the 2003 cod fishery, more scientific data about the state of the stocks must be collected and analysed,” said the Honourable Robert G. Thibault, Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
“This was a good opportunity to share our mutual concerns about the poor state of cod stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and northeast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was especially encouraging that we reaffirmed our commitment to move forward together on issues affecting the future of the Atlantic fishery,” said Minister Thibault.
Conservation and the sustainable use of the resources are the starting points to the discussion, he added.
A task group made up of federal, provincial and territorial officials met recently to begin the exchange of information and to establish a work plan for the coming months. Fisheries and Oceans Canada presented a briefing on the issue, including preliminary results of the analysis of potential regional impacts. Since last July, an interdisciplinary team of DFO resource managers, scientists and economists has been examining the scope of the problems presented by the poor state of the cod stocks.
“The principles of information sharing and flexible teamwork are set out in the Agreement on Interjurisdictional Cooperation. My department, other federal departments, my colleagues in provincial and territorial governments, fishery stakeholders and the communities themselves need to work together to address this situation,” Minister Thibault said. The Federal Government and the Provinces will be networking with industry stakeholders as they address this issue.
The Ministers agreed to meet again early next year to assess the results of the economic analysis and to discuss the potential socio-economic impacts of future decisions and possible response mechanisms.
The ACFAM is made up of Ministers from the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Nunavut and the federal government.
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Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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