Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rape continues on Grand Banks

It’s so comforting to know that the federal Conservative government finally has illegal fishing under control on our precious Grand Banks.

Opps, sorry.

Hope that dripping sarcasm didn’t shag up your computer.

The following information was posted this week on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website:

January 28, 2010

Canadian Inspectors for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) boarded the EU (Estonia) fishing vessel Ontika in NAFO Division 3M. The master of the vessel was issued one serious citation under the NAFO Conservation and Enforcement Measures for misrecording daily catch.

My first question is why did it take DFO almost three weeks to post news of the incident on its website? (Isn’t that always the way?)

There are a host of other questions:

What was the vessel fishing at the time?

How much “misrecording” went on?

Did the vessel return fishing once the series citation was issued?

VOCM carried a Feb. 1 story (I picked it up on the outlet’s twitter feed) that read “an Estonian shrimp fishing vessel, the Ontika, is in Harbour Grace today undergoing a voluntary inspection by Canadian NAFO officials.”

Like I said, there are a load of unanswered questions.

In December, the federal Conservatives approved a renegotiated convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), which oversees fishing outside the 200-mile limit — despite having been voted down in the House of Commons.

Despite the will of Parliament, in other words.

And despite the public concerns of a host of former senior DFO bureaucrats and fishery activists.

That renegotiated convention was supposed to cure much of our foreign overfishing woes.

Not a chance.

Earlier this month Ottawa banned Danish-flagged fishing trawlers from East Coast ports as punishment for the alleged overfishing of shrimp.

The Faroes, a self-governing province of Denmark lying southeast of Iceland, joined with Danish-controlled Greenland in protesting a 334-tonne shrimp quota imposed under NAFO, and unilaterally set their own quota of 3,100 tonnes.

That’s almost 10 times the original quota.

But under NAFO’s so-called objection procedure, member countries that don’t like a quota can disregard it and set their own.

The Canadian government may support a more binding process for setting quotas, but what are the chances of that happening anytime soon, do you think?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — Confederation’s greatest failure is our fisheries.

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