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Canada-EU Trade Agreement/Another sellout of Canadian fisheries interests

Government insiders have indicated that the pressure is on to conclude negotiations of a Canada-EU free trade agreement within the next month or two. These negotiations have been ongoing for years. The Harper government has made securing this agreement a policy priority. Indeed, to achieve this they were prepared in 2009 to ignore vital Canadian interests and rushed to ratify a flawed set of amendments to the NAFO Convention.
Little attention has been paid to the potential implications for Canadian fisheries of the proposed agreement. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a report, prepared by researcher Scott Sincair, which has brought these concerns into public focus.
According to this report, the proposed Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) threatens the sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities. The proposed treaty could undermine the ability of Canadians to pursue public policies that curb domination of the fisheries by large corporations and help spread the benefits of the fishery more widely among independent fish­ers and coastal communities.
Leaked documents reveal that the EU is pressuring Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec to abolish minimum processing requirements for fish. Minimum processing requirements provide provincial governments with critical leverage to maximize local benefits. Sinclair notes that “without such regulation, these decisions would be left to large fish processing companies to make with no consideration for any other fac­tors than how it affects their corporate bottom line.”
With respect to the inshore fishery and coastal communities, there are many clear conflicts between the new treaty rules and Canadian fisheries regulations and regulatory authority. Sinclair opines that one of the first casualties is likely to be minimum processing requirements, which remain an important policy lever for provincial governments in eastern Canada. Witness the recent controversy in Newfoundland over Ocean Choice's proposal to ship unprocessed fish to China. But the adverse implications for sustainable development of the fisheries are much broader, "largely because of the inherent limitations of the reservations to protect regulatory authority, especially at the provincial level". Agreements such as CETA are designed to eliminate public policies that favour local or national control and, under the guise of free market forces, to subordinate public policy to the interests of multinational corporations.

When the Harper government thumbed its nose at Parliament in December 2009 by ratifying NAFO amendments that gave the EU everything it had asked for the day after Parliament adopted a motion calling on the government to reject the amendments, many wondered whether the government's unseemly haste was linked to the CETA negotiations. There is now no doubt that this was indeed the case. The Harper government shamelessly traded away Canadian sovereignty over fisheries in order to facilitate agreement on a trade and investment treaty with the EU. It makes one want to weep.

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fish, sustainability, Canada-EU trade agreement, NAFO, sovereignty, export of unprocessed fish, Scott Sinclair, Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives


Quotas for the Atlantic lobster fishery???

This past year there has been a fair bit of publicity about lobster gluts in the Maritime provinces resulting in lower prices to fishermen. The lobster industry -- worth about $580 million in the region -- has been battered in recent years, with prices dropping by a third within the last three years. According to the Lobster Council of Canada, prices are around $3 per pound, down from $4.50 per pound in 2009.Nonetheless, fishermen have been reluctant to make changes to the way the fishery is conducted that would limit their catch and prop up prices.
Last week former federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea who hails from PEI where the lobster fishery is vitally important stuck her neck out by suggesting that it's time the lobster fishery looked at boat quotas in response to slumping prices at the wharf. While there seemed to be a willingness in PEI to discuss this option, reaction from southwest Nova Scotia was more negative with comparisons made to groundfish quotas and congestion at the wharves as catches were monitored against quotas.
In essence what Minister Shea was suggesting was a form of supply management. Supply management systems exist in the Canadian dairy and agriculture sectors. As applied to the lobster fishery the idea would be to protect prices by controlling the quantity of lobster made available to the market at a given time. This would give the fishermen some leverage in dealing with buyers and the big purchasers at the market level.
The supply management system in the Canadian dairy/agriculture sectors has been under attack in various free trade negotiations. Given that it is interesting to see a Conservative cabinet minister float the trial balloon of quotas in the lobster fishery to regulate the flow of supply to the market.
TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, sustainability, Canadian lobsters, lobster glut, lobster quotas, Gail Shea


Eight IUU fishing countries head towards EU fish import ban

The EU is notifying Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo, and Vanuatu that they are considered to be possible non-cooperating third countries, with regard to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The notifications are based on these countries consistent failures  to cooperate and to enforce measures against IUU vessels operating under their flag, failure to implement international rules set by RFMOs and being engaged in trade in products of IUU fishing. The decision follows the findings of missions conducted by the EU in several third countries. Factors leading to the EU's decision were refusal to enter into dialogue with the EU, lack of action to address established shortcomings, existence of deficiencies in monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries, and the existence of flags of convenience. This is the first step towards listing the countries as non-cooperating, and could lead to subsequent denial of access to the EU market for fishery products, banning vessels from EU ports, and prohibition of vessels purchase by EU nationals should they not address their failures.


TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fishing, fish, EU, IUU fishing,blaclklisting by EU


A new international fisheries organization for the Arctic?

The Rideau Insititute released this week at a conference on the Arctic a new report Circumpolar Challenges: An Ambitious Agenda for the Arctic Council, by Michael Byers . One thing that caught my eyes was Byers' comments on the potential for expanded fisheries in the Arctic as the ice cover continues to melt. In this report Byers recommends, inter alia, the establishment of a regional fisheries organization for the Arctic, as a precautionary measure in anticipation of intensified fishing there as the ice melt continues. This echoes a call by the Pew Enivormental Group in 2012 for a new international fisheries agreement to protect the Central Arctic Ocean. Byers argues that it can sometimes be easier to find the poltical will to conclude a treaty before national interests and public opinion are fully engaged, e.g. before expanded fisheries are developed there. Whether the Arctic Counicil is the appropriate vehicle to pursue such an agreement is an open question since the EU which has jurisdiction over fisheries of some of the potential players is not a member of the Council. But obviously the suggestion deserves further consideration and it is in Canada's interest to advance such a discussion.

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fishing, Arctic, international fisheries organization, Michael Byers, Rideau Institute, Arctic Council



Think Tank Recommends Freeze on EU fisheries

A London-based economics think tank has called for freezing fishing in Europe, saying most fish stocks would return to sustainable levels within five years. The New Economics Foundation (Nef) argues in its report that the suspension would generate billions of pounds in profits by 2023. Overfishing  remains a major issue for the EU, where 75% of stocks are still overfished and catches are only a fraction of what they were 15-20 years ago, according to the NEF. The think tank calculated that private investment of £9.16bn (11.4bn euros; $14.7bn) to manage the fishing freeze would generate profit of £4.43bn by 2023. "By 2052, the returns are £14 for every £1 invested," it said. Industry reps as expected have slammed the report. Commissioner Damanaki claims that overfishing in the North-East Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea had been reduced from 72% in 2010 to 47% in 2012.  She has said that the number of stocks being fished sustainably had risen from 13 to 19.

TAGS: sustainable, fish, fisheries, EU, unsustainable fishing, freeze EU fisheries, NEF


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