May 3, 2007
Today, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, released the following statement:
I am concerned by recent statements about conditions being imposed by the Williams' government on quota transfers. Therefore, it is necessary for me today to clear the air on this subject for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians affected by this situation.
As Minister, I am responsible for fairly managing these quotas on behalf of Canadians, and do so within a legal and policy framework that has been recognized by provinces and other stakeholders. On March 1, 2007 I sent a
letter to Minister Rideout explaining the criteria I would use to make a decision on quota transfers, if necessary.
As stated at that time, any arrangement to transfer quotas from FPI must:
Resolve the situation so we start catching fish again;
Provide the opportunity for employees to get back to work;
Ensure that the landings are in Newfoundland and Labrador;
Have endurance over time; and
Ensure that the Federal Minister's discretion is not fettered or perceived to be fettered.
This resource should be landed in the province for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I have always stated that those who fish should hold the quota, not governments or anyone else. In other words, those who run fishing enterprises, large or small, should not be subject to third parties telling them what to do.
To meet these objectives I will make it a condition of licence for those who would receive FPI's quotas to land their fish in Newfoundland and Labrador. This would be consistent with the principles of adjacency and historical attachment. Our province has always been the beneficiary of this resource, and will continue to be.
Since becoming Minister, I have acted on these principles – most recently when I sat with Minister Rideout in St. John's and announced the owner/operator policy to better preserve the independence of the inshore fleet. These were the same principles that guided my decision to allocate additional shrimp resource to harvesters last season – not communities or governments. A move like the one being suggested by the Williams' government would abandon the principles of this policy.
Simply put, the principles I have outlined above can be met through the existing process of the federal government authorizing a transfer of allocations between one harvesting company to another. There is no requirement or benefit of inserting another level of government into this process. Doing so would not only fetter the federal Minister's discretion, it would hinder the ability of companies to make sound business decisions.
I am concerned about any proposed solution that would see major allocations in the hands of governments rather than in the hands of industry. If this were something that provincial governments and industry wished to consider, it would need to be done in consultation with all coastal provinces, and not as a special deal with one province.
Instead, my approach will enable us to achieve the right balance of allowing Newfoundland and Labrador companies to compete in an increasingly challenging international marketplace while ensuring fish are landed in our province.
Ultimately, this is about people. The lives of thousands of people and their communities have been put on hold for too long as they have waited for this issue to be resolved. As governments, we always need to remember that everything we do is about people, families, and communities.
The Honourable Loyola Hearn
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada