New Fisheries Act - Fish Harvesters prepare for public hearings

January 28, 1997

The national organization of Canada’s commercial fish harvesters released a discussion paper today on the controversial “Partnership” provisions of the new Fisheries Act.

The new Fisheries Act - Bill C-62 - contains provisions which will authorize the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to grant persons legally binding access to fisheries resources in exchange for assuming greater fisheries management responsibilities and costs.

The discussion paper, prepared by the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters, is to be used as a resource by fish harvester organizations in preparation for public hearings on the Bill which will be held in coastal communities in February and March.

In 1996 the government was forced to let the same Bill die on the order table because of opposition to the partnership provisions.

Council Executive Director, Daniel Bernier, said the partnership provisions have generated a great deal of debate amongst fish harvesters because of the range of implications they could have on fisheries policy.

“The objectives of the partnership provisions are quite clear” Bernier said. “They provide the legal framework for the transfer of management authority from government to groups of persons”.

“What is not clear is who exactly these groups will be, how transparent the negotiations of these agreements will be and what impact an agreement with one group will have on other stakeholders in the fishery”, he said.

“Will partnership agreements work equally well for the small-boat independent operator as for the large off-shore processing company? Will all stakeholders have the same opportunity to share in the wealth that our fisheries are capable of producing?”

“These are fundamental questions we are raising and we hope they will generate some answers when the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans begins its public hearings next month” Bernier added.

You can see the media release in its original format here.