The fishing waters off Newfoundland and Laborador are some of the most closely watched in the world. On every community’s mind is the question: When will the fish come back? They watch the seals grow fat, their bank accounts grow lean and they want action. They want the seals to go.
Now that finally may happen. The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) has just released a report entitled Towards Recovered and Sustainable Groundfish Fisheries in Eastern Canada. Though overfishing crashed the population of groundfish such as cod, haddock and flounder, the seals will pay.
To come up with their recommendations, the Council talked with industry, biologists, fishers and Aboriginal communities. Two things nearly everyone agreed on: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is taking too long to complete the Sustainable Fisheries Framework they hope will put the fishing industry back on its boats, and seals are eating the fish.
So the report calls on the government to complete its work and to become a whole lot better about working with the industry. One red flag is a warning “that the top-down, prescriptive nature of the Species at Risk Act will largely remove industry from participation in management of the resource, and will counter initiatives towards stewardship and co-management.”
The same warning appears any time an industry objects to government regulation of a resource. In this case, the Species at Risk Act is one small, government voice for endangered wildlife. The fishing industry’s earlier record with stewardship and co-management nearly wiped out the groundfish. If the fish are ever to recover, they need non-industry voices guarding their interests.
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