October 6, 2006
Canada's New Government is seeking to keep the right balance between the needs
of coastal communities and the needs of our oceans to ensure both thrive. We are
working with other fishing nations to find solutions that respect our environment
and respect those who make their living on the sea.
Consultations have just concluded at the United Nations during a two-day review
on the impacts of fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems, which generated much
healthy discussion. Outside the doors of the UN, however, discussions appear to
be more contentious. Calls for a complete ban on bottom-trawl gear are the focus
of protests and environmental group rallies.
Canada, like many other responsible fishing nations, does not see a blanket ban
as the way forward. What we do stand for is ensuring there is responsible fishing
taking place on the high seas and in our own waters.
Canada has carefully considered the issues surrounding the impact of fishing
on vulnerable marine ecosystems. I have come to the conclusion that real solutions
must be practical, enforceable and fair.
That's why Canada supports putting regional fisheries management organizations
in place in unregulated areas of the high seas. These regional bodies should have
the capacity to find and protect vulnerable habitat and other marine resources,
and the teeth to deal harshly with those who break the rules at the environment's
Canada also supports urgent action to protect vulnerable areas on the high seas.
To this end, last month we submitted a proposal to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries
Organization to take action to protect four seamounts in the Atlantic. This proposal
was accepted by all parties; commercial fishing activities on the seamounts have
been stopped until 2010, so we have time to get scientific information we need to
decide how we can best protect these areas.
Within Canadian waters we have rules that allow us to protect the environment
while still allowing for sustainable fishing, such as our Oceans Act and
Oceans Action Plan. Our approach looks at the uniqueness of each area and chooses
the best solution.
We have taken steps to protect the cold water corals in the Atlantic and hydrothermal
vents in the Pacific, establishing marine protected areas off both coasts. Sometimes
we choose to close an area to fishing permanently. In other cases, it may be more
appropriate to shut down fishing activities only for the spawning period.
We've required industry to modify some gear types to reduce the impact on vulnerable
habitat and by-catch. This includes developing and using new technology that is
less damaging to the ocean bottom.
Canada's New Government will continue to lead the world through its example of
being a nation that fishes responsibly. We adopt tough rules that respect both our
environment and the people who rely on the ocean for their livelihood. While those
on either extreme of the debate will not be pleased, these are the principles which
we will defend strongly at the United Nations and on the world stage.
To do anything less does not represent Canada properly on the
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada