FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 4th, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc’s has some explaining to do regarding his statement that the recent death of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence pose a threat to Canada’s reputation.
“Is that the same fisheries reputation that boasts the 25-year anniversary of the '92 northern cod moratorium, and the same reputation that has most commercial fish stocks today off the province’s shores at or near critical levels?” asks Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.
“What an insult to Newfoundland and Labrador and the management crisis that has tightened its grip on our fishery for 25 years. The minister may not know it, but the embarrassing state of the Grand Banks has tarnished Canada’s fisheries reputation for decades.”
LeBlanc held a news conference in New Brunswick earlier this week to say that Ottawa will do whatever it takes to protect right whales, 10 of which have died in recent weeks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including four that washed up on Newfoundland shores over the past week.
Government is prepared to “take all necessary steps,” LeBlanc told the media, noting the 10 recent confirmed deaths pose a threat to Canada's global reputation.
"Every option to protect right whales is on the table," the minister said, citing changes to shipping lanes, increased aerial surveillance, remote-controlled acoustic equipment or changes to fishing gear as being among the possibilities.
LeBlanc said he plans to convene a symposium with representatives of the marine and fishing industries to discuss and finalize options, adding Canada has an “enormous responsibility" under the Endangered Species Act to find solutions.
“The last I looked our inshore harvesters and the communities they support are just as endangered,” said Cleary. “The minister closed the snow crab fishery in part of the Gulf to try to keep whales from getting tangled up in gear, but asked shipping vessels to slow down. That in itself tells you something.”