OTTAWA – The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today issued the following statement:
As a Maritimer, I know how important the lobster fishery is to our coastal communities. It is an important pillar in our rural economy and when times are tough I know the impacts are felt widely. That is why I welcomed the work of both the Report of the Maritime Lobster Panel and the Independent Review of the PEI Lobster Industry by our Maritime Provinces. These Reports both clearly articulated the challenges facing the Atlantic lobster industry. I recognize these challenges and am committed to helping the lobster industry address these issues. I also want to make sure the work that has gone into these Reports is not wasted, nor momentum lost.
I have reviewed these Reports with interest and have given much consideration to the recommendations directed towards Fisheries and Oceans Canada — in particular, those outlined in the Report of the Maritime Lobster Panel. I recognize the importance of addressing these recommendations and understand how their implementation would help to advance the lobster industry. I have also had the opportunity to speak with many industry representatives as well as the Provinces who share jurisdiction in this area. Following these discussions, it is clear that my Department has a role to play, but will require industry’s leadership and the support of the Provinces to carry out these recommendations.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada will work with industry and the Provinces to clarify its decision-making process when and where there is a clearly constituted organization with a leadership that has the mandate to speak on behalf of its members. I am hopeful such a move will support legitimate fishermen’s organizations and encourage the industry to work together as highlighted by the Report.
We will also assist harvester organizations in taking a larger role in managing the resource they depend on by working with them in developing clear “change guidelines”. This will clarify for harvesters what aspects of a fisheries management plan can be changed and how — this makes good sense. We will work with industry to provide clear “rules of the road” when considering fisheries management changes.
We will also work with interested harvester organizations to develop modern, industry driven, self-rationalization initiatives that improve the economic outcomes of the industry. However, let me be clear, these initiatives will not include taxpayer-funded buyout programs. I look forward to hearing from harvesters on how we can assist them in this regard.
Finally, as recommended in the Report, I can assure you that I am committed to working with the Provinces and our industry partners to develop a modern data collection system. Real time and point of sale information will help demystify the price at the wharf and allow all industry players — from ocean to plate — to make better, more informed choices about their businesses.
Successful outcomes of the Report will depend on all parties — the Government of Canada, the Provinces and harvesters — playing their respective roles. As such, I continue to look to industry for leadership and to the Provinces for support on how best to move forward on these initiatives together.
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