March 21, 2005
(Fisheries and Aquaculture)

Restructuring to provide more global outlook on seafood

The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is undergoing further renewal following a year of modernizing the province�s fish processing policies.

"We must continue to refocus our resources as we act to strengthen our seafood industry," says Trevor Taylor, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. "In doing so, we are following the principles of resource sustainability, adjacency, quality assurance, and economic viability. Over the past year, we have strengthened our quality assurance program and hired new inspection officers. We have established an arms-length licensing board. We have updated fisheries legislation and regulations. We have announced raw material sharing systems for the shrimp and crab fisheries. We have introduced a loan guarantee initiative for qualified aquaculture operations. And now we are acting to modernize the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture itself."

As indicated in the Speech from the Throne, the department�s Resource Policy and Development Division is being reorganized into a new Sustainable Fisheries and Oceans Policy Division. This reassignment of staff will increase the province�s emphasis on fisheries management and foreign overfishing. It will improve monitoring of regulatory issues such as the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

A new Seafood Diversification and Development Division will house fisheries development responsibilities. This will see a greater emphasis on public and private sector partnerships to develop the harvesting, processing, and marketing sectors. This change will improve the use of existing resources in light of the expiry of a number of cost-shared agreements.

A dedicated seafood trade analysis capacity is also being added. This will improve the province�s ability to address global trade barriers such as the European Union�s 20 per cent tariff on cooked and peeled shrimp. The trade specialist will monitor federal trade negotiations and will assist the seafood industry in areas such as new bio-terrorism rules for exporters.

"Our province�s fisheries policies were badly outdated after years of short-term decision-making that risked long-term damage," explains the minister. "These budget changes will increase our involvement with fisheries and ecosystem management decisions. They will help ensure that our interests can be protected on the national and international stage."

The improvements reflect views expressed in discussions with staff, industry, other provincial departments, and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Media contact: Alex Marland, Communications, (709) 729-3733, 690-6047

2005 03 21                         3:40 p.m.

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