Thursday, October 1, 2009

Telegram letter: Oct. 1, 2009

Federal minister's record pathetic
The Telegram

I have a fundamental problem with the Sept. 26 letter to the editor by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea ("Fisheries concerns unfounded") in regards to proposed changes to the NAFO convention - she and her department have no credibility.


I would sooner believe foreign fleets use their nets on the Grand Banks to catch butterflies.

Shea, who has been minister for less than a year, argued that Canada would not be pressured or coerced to allow NAFO to either manage stocks inside 200 miles or to allow for weaker conservation measures.

At the same time, four retired, toplevel DFO bureaucrats with decades of experience in international fisheries negotiations argue just the opposite. Red flags have been raised and Ms. Shea expects us to trust her inexperience, not to mention her department's pathetic track record in management and conservation.

Not binding

Ms. Shea wrote that the changes to the NAFO convention will address the problem of the objection procedure, whereby a nation can object to a NAFO decision, set their own unilateral quota and fish it without consequence. She says the amended convention includes a dispute resolution mechanism to challenge actions that undermine conservation and management measures.

Only that new mechanism is not binding during the fishing season, which means it's absolutely useless.

Ms. Shea writes the "proof is on the water," with fewer high seas violations than ever before and those caught facing stiff penalties.

No, Ms. Shea, the proof is in the water, with most groundfish stocks in worse shape than ever.

Only last week NAFO decided to allow a cod fishery on the Flemish Cap for the first time in a decade. The week previous, the World Wildlife Fund released data that shows the amount of cod caught on the Grand Banks this past year exceeded the NAFO quota by 119 per cent.

Ms. Shea wrote that Canada refuses to operate under the archaic rules of a flawed organization. If she truly believes that she should change her title to federal Minister of Fiction and Empty Oceans.

Ryan Cleary

St. John's

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