VANCOUVER, Feb. 17, 2012 /CNW/ - "Playing politics with fishery allocations undermines resource sustainability and responsible management," said BC Seafood Alliance executive director Christina Burridge following Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield's decision to give the recreational sector an additional 3 per cent of the Canadian catch of Pacific halibut. "Competing interest groups lobbying the politicians for more access to the resource is bad for the fish and the people of Canada."
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) after several years of facilitation and independent advice implemented a policy in 2003 allocating the recreational sector 12% of the Canadian catch, one third above their actual historical catch. DFO also provided a market mechanism to transfer allocation between the two sectors. "Instead of using this mechanism," Burridge noted, "the recreational sector lobbied politicians to reallocate fish from the fully monitored and accountable commercial users to a poorly monitored and seemingly uncontrolled recreational sector."
According to Burridge, Minister Ashfield and DFO staff have repeatedly made the case that Canada's commercial fisheries need stability, predictability and transparency in order to compete and provide consumers with a sustainable, consistent and quality product. "This decision flies in the face of those principles and sends the message that whoever gets the most people to public meetings, makes the most noise in the media, and threatens politicians with losing their seats will get what they want time and time again," she said.
Stable allocation frameworks are the bedrock of good fisheries management, Burridge noted, giving commercial fishermen the incentive to invest in conservation and the future of the resource. "This is why the Marine Stewardship Council and NGOs believe Pacific halibut is one of the best managed fisheries in the world."
Earlier this month, the Royal Society of Canada's expert panel on marine biodiversity called for reducing the Minister's absolute discretion to manage fisheries. "The Minister's decision demonstrates exactly why this needs to happen," she said. "Fisheries management should be based on principles, policy and proper process, not politics."
The BC Seafood Alliance is an umbrella organization whose members account for about 90 per cent of commercially harvested seafood in BC with a mandate to encourage sustainable, profitable fisheries.
For further information:
Contact: Christina Burridge, 604.377.9213; [email protected]