Welcome to Sustainable Fisheries

EU making slow progress in reducing overcapacity

Overcapacity-far too many boats for the volume of fish available-  was identified as the primary shortcoming of EU fisheries management in a 2009 Commission Green Paper. A new report this week indicates that little progress is being made in addressing this problem, In 2010 fleet capacity expressed in engine power and tonnage was reduced on average by 2 and 4 per cent respectively. Technological progress probably offsets these minor capacity reductions. The report's findings put into question the efficiency of publicly financed capacity reductions. A 2011 Court of Auditors' report also concluded the failure of the current measures, and advocates either a new approach or better application of existing measures. Report available here:

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fishing, overcapacity, EU, excessive fishing effort, overfishing


Harper govt gutting fish habitat protection

The Harper govt in its Omnibus Budget legislation Bill C-38 is destroying the environmental assessment process in Canada and gutting the fish habitat provisions of the Fiaheries Act. There has been a widespead negative reaction to this move by environmental groups, university scientists and opposition politicians. This reaction is grounded in facts.

Removing protection for fish habitats is drawing the most fire. Currently Section 35 of the Fisheries Act requires an environmental review before someone can alter or destroy a body of water that is vital to the life cycle of fish.The Conservative bill kills the reference to habitat and instead places protection on fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery.

I worked for the government for 35 years before retiring in 2002. I oversaw fish habitat as Fisheries and Oceans assistant deputy minister from 1994 to 1999. I quickly learned that environmental groups considered Section 35 the most crucial piece of environmental legislation in the country. In a recent interview with the Hallifax Chronicle Herald I pointed out that this is “much more than a minor definitional change. Basically, they’re gutting the Fisheries Act. They’re gutting the most powerful piece of environmental legislation in Canada. In my opinion, it’s a regressive move, a move back to the Stone Age of fish habitat management."  http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/90484-critics-assail-conservatives-for-gutting-fisheries-protections

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, fish habitat,habitat protection,Fisheries Act, Scott Parsons

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EU NAFO observer scheme a fiasco

The Harper govt made much ado in 2009 about revisions to the NAFO Convention that it claimed would improve conservation and enforcement. Four former DFO executives (including myself) fought these amemdments "tooth and nail" because we knew that NFO would remain a toothless tiger. We succeeded in getting the House of Commons to pass a majority resolution calling on the Harper govt to reject these amendments. Thumbing its nose at Parliament, in a now only too familiar gesture, the Harper govt responded by announcing that Canada would ratify the amended Convention.

What has been happening since then? A few days ago the UK Guardian newspaper reported the results of an investigation into the EU observer scheme in the NAFO Area. It reported that observers monitoring European fish quotas are being regularly intimidated, offered bribes and undermined by the fishing crews they are observing. More than 20 former and current observers on Portuguese and Spanish ships said that they had experienced tactics such as beingput under surveillance, deprived of sleep, or threatened with being thrown overboard, or having their official documentation stolen by fishing crews to conceal a culture of overfishing. More here http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/18/fishing-inspectors-intimidated-bribed-crews?intcmp=122

TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, overfishing, EU fisheries observers, Spanish fleet, observers intimidated

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Harper govt moves to gut Atlantic fishery

Recently Brian Lee Crowley, who fancies himself as Canada's Milton Friedman, had an article in the Hill Times calling for more privatization of the Atlantic fishery. Long a big fan of ITQs, the Holy Grail of right-wing fisheries economists, Crowley is one of the ideologues who believes that big business should have unfettered control of the fishery and the "invisible hand" of the free market would sort out all problems. Never mind that hundreds of coastal communities are dying as a consequence. Crowley's musings prompted a response from businessman Herb Breau, who was briefly a Liberal Minister of Fisheries in the 1980s. Breau argued that with respect to the fishery "Crowley had gotten almost every point wrong."
Breau pointed out that the Atlantic offshore fishery for cod and similar species, known as groundfish, was already adopting ITQs before he served as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in 1984, and continued after that. He notes that the causes of the cod collapse have still to be fully understood. There is no simple answer. "One thing we know is that ITQs did not prevent it. Advocating them as a blanket solution therefore defies experience," Breau argues. He concludes that, where ITQs are envisaged as a means  one must consider both the benefits (they can indeed reduce expenditures) and the dangers ( they are often accused of fostering poaching and depopulating communities.
Today columnist Ralph Surette, writing in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, sounds the alarm: "The Harper government has signalled its intent to assault the structure of the independent East Coast fishery, with the apparent aim of opening it up to more corporate control. Given what’s at stake for Atlantic Canada, it had better be all hands on deck for this fight, as the billion-dollar lobster, crab and shrimp sectors and the coastal economies they support risk being thrown into anarchy." He criticizes the current moves by the Harper government to abandon long-established policies that restrict corporate concentration in the Atlantic fishery. His article is pungently titled: " Smell of Rotting Fish Coming from Ottawa." Shades of Shakespeare! Read it here http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/86531-smell-of-rotting-fish-coming-from-ottawa#.T4mnDU5Pe0M.twitter
TAGS: sustainable, fisheries, Atlantic fishery, ITQs, corporate concentration, Atlantic fishery policy, Brian Lee Crowley, Herb Breau, Hill Times, Ralph Surette


ITQ Advocates Out to Lunch re Changes to Fisheries Policy

Earlier this week John Ivison writing in the National Post waded into the debate over the Tory plans to "modernize: Canada's fisheries policy. This is widely regarded by Atlantic fishermen as code for "selling out coastal communities and fishermen to corporate interests." Spokesmen for the corporate sector on the other hand see this as their one great chance to overturn policies they have fought for decades. John Ivison has unwiitingly been duped by economists who believe that ITQs are the answer to all fisheries ills. A fisheries colleague of mine has provided a crisp rejoiner to Ivison's meanderings in a letter which I heartedly endorse.

Read more...


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