CANADA - Canada’s independent fishermen opened the door on a new relationship with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans last week when they gathered in Halifax with senior government officials to identify policy changes to strengthen the owner-operator fishery and the economies of fishing communities.
The Policy Forum brought together owner-operator fishery leaders from Atlantic Canada, Quebec and British Columbia, senior Federal government fisheries officials and provincial government representatives for two days of initial talks on enforcement of existing policies, means to facilitate young people getting into the fishery and new rules on how policy changes affecting fishermen could be made in the future.
The Forum was convened by Canada’s national fishermen’s organization, the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Federation. Federation President Christian Brun said he was very pleased with the forum.
“The discussions were sharply focussed, respectful and constructive,” he said.
“Over the last seven years the government has put in place key policies to ensure that the benefits of the fishery flow to the hard working men and women who live in fishing communities and earn their living from the fishery. Fishermen are deeply committed to these policies and want to see them strictly enforced. That was one of the key messages from the Forum,” Mr Brun said.
Mr Brun said Forum delegates also identified a wide range of innovations that could be developed to improve fishermen’s incomes and smooth the entry of young people into the fishery.
“The Forum was very productive and long overdue,” Mr Brun said. “It has set the stage for much more focussed and detailed discussions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans going forward on ways to improve the overall coherence of our fishery policies from the independent fishermen’s perspective.”
In an address to Forum delegates Fisheries Minister Gail Shea called the meeting historic and said the Department needed to ensure that both the spirit and the letter of its policies are respected.
The Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation represents Canada’s owner-operator fishing fleets. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec these fleet harvest seventy-five per cent of the landed value from the fishery and collectively are the region’s largest private sector employer.
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