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March 31st, 2022 - Question Period - Closure of Fisheries

Closure of Fisheries

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, yesterday the government announced the closure of Atlantic mackerel and commercial bait fisheries without any consultation with the fishermen.

Weeks before the fishing season is about to begin, the government blindsided fishermen. As the Maritime Fishermen’s Union said, this announcement illustrates a lack of respect for the expertise of the inshore fishermen and a lack of interest in the economy of rural Atlantic communities. Senator Gold, why did the government not consult with the fishermen before making a major decision that will affect their livelihood?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for underlining the importance to the Atlantic fishery and the impact of this decision.

The conservation and protection of our fish stocks are a priority for this government, as it was for previous governments. I’m assured that all decisions taken by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are underpinned by sound science and the conclusions that can be drawn therefrom.

This was not an easy decision. The government recognizes the impact it will have on fish harvesters. As colleagues may know — and certainly, Senator Poirier, I’m sure you and your colleagues from the region do know — the mackerel and the Southern Gulf spring herring have been in a critical zone for more than a decade. This has implications for many species, such as tuna, salmon and cod, that depend on foraged fish as their food source.

Today’s decision aims to protect and regenerate these stocks to ensure a strong and healthy seafood sector for the generations to come.

Senator Poirier: Senator Gold, according to Martin Mallet, Director of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, additional costs for fishermen could be as high as $10 million. Minister Joyce Murray also said there were no current plans for financial compensation — no consultation and no financial compensation weeks before they were set to hit the water. Senator Gold, why is the government not even considering financial compensation for potential loss to fishermen due to the government’s decision?

Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. I’m not in a position to confirm that the government is not considering it. It certainly has not made a decision, and if any such decision were made, it would be announced.

(1430)

It is important to remind this chamber that this is a temporary moratorium. It was made because the situation was deemed urgent. Despite the impact in the short term, it was necessary to take this decision to protect the long-term viability of the fish stocks upon which the fishery depends.

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