The following news release was issued by my office today, March 20, 2012.
St. John’s – NDP MP Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South-Mount Pearl) is encouraged by the recent support from leading Canadian fishery scientist Dr. Jeffrey Hutchings (above) for an inquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.
Hutchings, who recently chaired the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on Sustaining Canada`s Marine Biodiversity, said an inquiry is necessary to learn from the mistakes of the groundfish collapse so it never happens again, and to start the rebuilding process.
“Despite the collapse of northern cod and several other fish in the early 1990’s, these stocks still have no rebuilding plans, rebuilding timelines, or science-determined recovery targets,” said Dr. Hutchings. “While other cod fisheries, such as Norway’s, have seen tremendous rebound, most of the stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador remain at critically low levels.”
Hutchings calls the depletion of Atlantic cod, “the greatest loss of a vertebrate species in Canadian history.”
“An inquiry is needed to ensure that we have learned from the mistakes of the northern cod collapse, to initiate a long-term recovery plan for Canadian cod stocks, and to fully engage all Canadians in this key effort which will help establish Canada as a world leader in the stewardship and responsible management of our oceans,” said Dr. Hutchings, a professor of biology at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University, as well as being a Killam Research Chair.
Hutchings earned his PhD from Memorial University of Newfoundland and worked for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Newfoundland for two years in the early 1990’s. He has been a long-time critic of what he terms the “selective use” of science advice in DFO’s fisheries management.
“The same government system that destroyed a fishery that once employed 100,000 Atlantic Canadians, and involved dozens of nations for hundreds of years, is still in place,” said Cleary. “When Dr. Hutchings speaks, we should all listen.”
“Not only has the Conservative government rejected the call for an inquiry, it’s taking a frightening risk by continuously gutting fisheries science, muzzling what scientists who are left, and slashing budgets left and right,” he added.
Cleary’s private members bill, C-308, (Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding Act), was defeated by the Harper Conservatives in the House of Commons in December.
Cleary's office has since reviewed all the fisheries studies and reports carried out in recent years by the federal Auditor General, the Senate, and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Many of the major recommendations were never implemented.
For more information on reports and recommendations to DFO from the Royal Society, Auditor General or House/Senate committees visit http://www.ryancleary.ca/fishhistory