May 26, 2003
Premier releases White Paper on Joint Fisheries Management
Premier Roger Grimes today publicly released government’s proposal for a constructive solution to the serious problems related to the province’s fishery.
Details of the proposal are contained in a White Paper on Joint Fisheries Management for Newfoundland and Labrador, released by the Premier at a news conference in St. John’s. Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Yvonne Jones and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Tom Lush also participated.
"The white paper proposal is the most effective way to achieve responsible management of fish stocks adjacent to our shores, as well as economic development that could benefit our communities and people as a result of co-management of the fisheries by the federal and provincial governments," the Premier said.
"This proposal has the potential to create a fair, equitable and transparent fisheries management regime that will benefit not only Newfoundland and Labrador, but all of Canada," he said.
The white paper document (available online at www.gov.nl.ca) proposes establishing a Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Management Board, authority for which would be enshrined in enabling legislation passed by both orders of government. Draft Newfoundland and Labrador legislation for this purpose, and included with the white paper, is consistent with a resolution passed unanimously in the House of Assembly on May 14.
Federal management of adjacent fish stocks since 1949 "simply has not worked in the best interest of either the province or the fish stocks. We must have constructive changes, and have them soon. There is an urgent need to act, and our proposal provides a sound detailed plan which will form the basis for negotiations with the Government of Canada. It is our strong view that rebuilding of fish stocks and having a sustainable fishery will not be achieved under the current fisheries management approach."
Premier Grimes said that far too often, federal fisheries management decisions have been taken unilaterally, arbitrarily, and without consultation, the most recent case being the decisions to close Gulf and Northern cod stocks. In the case of the Gulf cod stock, the decision to close was contrary to advice the federal government received from its own Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. Recommendations from the All-Party Committee of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature were also largely ignored.
"The decision to close those cod fisheries is strong evidence of a need for an alternative to our present approach to fisheries management. We need a more rigorous approach, one that ensures that these stocks recover to levels that can support sustainable commercial fisheries, and that other fisheries do not fall to the same fate," Premier Grimes said.
Minister Jones said that integration of federal and provincial responsibilities would enable a joint management board to align harvesting and processing decisions, and replace conflict with consistency.
"Lack of a single policy framework to guide decision-making in the areas controlled by each government has resulted in severe negative impacts for rural communities, and loss of direct employment and income to thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," she said.
Minister Lush said, "Newfoundland and Labrador is not alone in its concerns over federal-provincial relationships. The reasons may differ from province to province, but federal-provincial relations are suffering from a malaise that goes way beyond the usual differences of opinion and healthy debate about issues. This call for joint fisheries management reflects the will and desire of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to be engaged as equal partners in the Canadian federation. It demonstrates the type of flexibility that is needed to ensure that governments remain adaptable and responsive to contemporary realities and the people they have been mandated to serve."
Over the next few weeks, Ministers Jones and Lush will hold roundtable discussions with individuals and organizations to provide information about and discuss the province’s joint management proposal.
Proposed Joint Management Regime
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is proposing shared and equal joint management of fish stocks adjacent to the province through a Canada/Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Management Board (CNLFMB). Authority for the board would be enshrined in enabling legislation passed by both orders of government. Consistent with the unanimous resolution of the House of Assembly on this matter, the board and its authority would be enshrined in the Terms of Union.
The proposed board would promote long-term sustainability of adjacent fisheries, conservation of fish resources and habitat, and understanding of ocean ecosystems. The board would also promote recognition of the historical and current socio-economic dependence of communities on fisheries.
A key function of the board would be to implement fair and equitable principles to govern the allocation of resources, recognizing the traditional and internationally-used principles of adjacency and historical dependency, as well as the economic dependence of resource users on fish stocks.
The board’s responsibilities would include, but not be limited to, conservation and rebuilding plans, consultation and fisheries management, and fisheries science. The current responsibilities of both the federal and provincial governments for harvesting and processing respectively, would in effect, be ceded to the board. In general terms, the board would be responsible for all aspects of management of adjacent fisheries, including regulatory management and development of policy regarding inspection and enforcement responsibilities of the provincial and federal governments.
Enforcement functions could remain within the respective governments, with general policy coordinated by the board. The province would be responsible for the enforcement of processing regulations and quality standards, while the federal government would retain its current enforcement role.
Under this proposal, many aspects of oceans management would appropriately remain under federal government control. The province recognizes Canada’s international commitments and obligations which must be fulfilled at the national level. The federal government would retain jurisdiction over international negotiations, surveillance, international enforcement, port access, transport and international trade.
The proposed board would be comprised of seven members, with three members appointed by each government and a chairperson appointed jointly by both.
The board would follow management policies and principles established by both governments. The chairperson would have the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Should both governments disagree with a decision of the board, both governments would have to agree to veto or refuse a decision. "Fundamental decisions", such as those relating to the opening or closure of a fishery or a conservation plan, could be reversed only by either the board itself or by a joint decision of both governments.
The board would operate at arms-length from both governments. Government input would be provided in the development of guiding principles and policies in the initial design of the board, but the board would establish its own operating procedures.
To support the board by providing the necessary scientific research and advice, it is proposed that the current scientific function of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans be moved to a new entity: the Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Research Council. The council would report directly to the board and would be responsible for all scientific research currently undertaken by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in adjacent waters.
Media contact: Catherina Kennedy, Office of the Premier (709) 729-3960
2003 05 26 2:20 p.m.