March / 1998

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The following are various articles taken from the latest Bulletin , a publication put out by the MFU head office located in Shediac, New Brunswick.

Contents :

The Five Leading Gulf Associations Meet in Charlottetown

Lobster and Snow Crab

Fishermen from the East coast of New Brunswick Occupy the DFO Building in Moncton

Scallop Enhancement Program

21st Annual Convention of the Maritime Fishermen's Union

New Brunswick and Gaspé A Common Project for an Inshore Zone

Co-Management Workshop

Workshop on Lobster Management

The lobster fishery in LFA 34

Dues Legislation in Nova Scotia

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the Fishery

The Five Leading Gulf Associations Meet in Charlottetown

The Inshore Agrees on a Common Stand on Groundfish

The Conference on the future of the inshore fishery in the Gulf which took place at the Charlottetown Hotel on March 7, 8 and 9 gathered together around 100 delegates from the five major fishers organization of the Gulf :

These Associations are:

  1. The Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Quebec, (APPQ)

  2. The Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association (PEIFA)

  3. The Federation of Gulf Nova Scotia Groundfishermen,(FGNSG)

  4. The Fishermen, Food and Allied Workers of Newfoundland (FFAW)

  5. The Maritime Fishermen's Union (MFU)

Around 30 observers and guests were also present including Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Anderson, Wayne Easter; Fisheries Resource Conservation Council Chairman, Fred Woodman; and Senior federal and provincial civil servants and Members of Parliament.

Delegates looked for a consensus on fundamental principles for reopening the cod fishery that would ensure a sustainable resource. To this end, different ways and means were examined and the results are as follows:

TAGS Program - Delegates were unequivocal and unanimous that Government must continue an income support program to allow the survival of the coastal people devastated by the collapse of the groundfishery.

Dramatic increase of stocks, such as shrimp, that were due to the collapse of the groundfishery should be used as part of an overall fleet planning approach.

New scientific information confirms that there is a high degree of mixing of various Gulf/non-Gulf groundfish stocks at the mouth of the Gulf and beyond during the winter months (November to April). Consequently, for conservation reasons there can be no directed mobile cod fishery during this period. Individuals dependent on this fishery must be financially compensated through the buy-out program.

Despite a difficult history of conflict between fleets and gear sectors, despite strongly held views by many that certain fleets must be held accountable for the demise of the cod, and acknowledging the strongly held view that fish must be redistributed to the Inshore sector, fishermen will accept present allocation shares held by individuals and fleets as a starting point for negotiations if Industry and Government agree to the strategy outlined in this document.

Lobster and Snow Crab

The MFU is Waiting for the Minister's Decision

At the same time that we are sending the Bulletin to the printer, we are waiting for two important decisions from the federal Minister of Fisheries & Oceans, Mr. David Anderson.

On snow crab, the MFU has condemned the co-management agreement that all but eliminates any sharing with the inshore. We also rejected the conclusions of a study on crab landing prices since our own experience and our own research showed us different prices. We are asking for permanent access, not a sharing of the resource based on the state of the snow crab market or on the good will of the traditional crabers.

On lobster, it's the Minister himself who asked fishers to find ways to increase egg production. In the Southern Gulf, everybody in the lobster fishery knows that the 2 1/2" minimum size in LFA 24 prevents any progress in that sector.

In both cases, we are asking the Minister to show some leadership and favor the survival of the inshore fishery.

Fishermen from the East coast of New Brunswick Occupy the DFO Building in Moncton

Some 200 MFU fishermen, mostly spring herring fishermen, occupied DFO's Gulf Regional Center in Moncton on March 2nd.

The fishermen present criticized DFO's attitude as being scrupulous towards the resource on one hand but at the same time allowing a few seiners to fish an important part of the resource with non-selective fishing gear.

After a hard day of negotiations where DFO showed very little flexibility, fishermen were given the assurance that the 1997 data would be quickly integrated in the decision making process to allow for the chance to maybe be able to identify recruitment in young age classes. Fishermen were also given the assurance that they would be given the opportunity to examine the data from biologists before their final report on March 23rd.

Our representatives will also be able to meet with the Minister's office before the final decision on quota size and sharing is made.

DFO officials left the door open on the question of dockside monitoring. The MFU is presently reorganizing its coordination system to allow the issuance of the licenses.

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Scallop Enhancement Program

MFU Creates a Company to Coordinate Activities

The MFU is presently trying to put in place Pecten Inc., a company whose mandate will be to coordinate the general activities of the scallop enhancement program on the east coast of New Brunswick. At a more local level, there could be up to six other small and distinct companies each responsible to manage the local activities of the program in the different fishing zones. Each company will be independent from Pecten and each other. Each company will be represented on the Board of Directors of Pecten that will also include the Executive Council of the MFU.

The local companies will nevertheless be linked to Pecten by way of an letter of understanding to ensure the principles of the scallop enhancement program are respected. A formula will ensure an equitable representation of the northern and southern regions on the Board. Pecten will be responsible to find some financing for the project and will coordinate the sharing of scientific information.

21st Annual Convention of the Maritime
Fishermen's Union

The delegation of 160 fishermen from the Gulf and Scotia-Fundy regions was the biggest ever to participate in a MFU Convention. Delegates debated over 15 resolutions in particular on the following subjects:

The delegates also gave their support to the workers of Allsco that have been locked out of their work for the past two years. The sum of $445 was collected in their support.


The main guest speaker, Mr. Earl McCurdy, president of the Newfoundland Fishermen's Union, focused on the importance of the role that fishermen's organization play in their communities and on the struggle against the Government's budgetary policies. Mr. McCurdy and the delegates also expressed their concerns about the increasing population of seal which is putting in danger the recovery of the cod and salmon stocks.

Danny Gay, the New Brunswick Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, was also present at the Convention and talked about the preoccupations of his government concerning the fisheries sector.

Regarding the international activities of the MFU, Lucie Breau gave a report on the participation of the MFU at the World Forum on Fisheries that was held in India a few months ago. Mr. Gilles Haley talked of the Development and Peace campaign in relation with the fishing agreements in Senegal.

Presentation on the Lobster Fishing Effort Study

M. Omer Chouinard from the University of Moncton gave an overview of the results of a study on the changes in lobster fishing effort in LFA 23, 24, 25, 26A and 26B, did in collaboration between the University of Moncton, Fisheries and Oceans and the MFU.

The study looked at the changes during the past 20 years to boats and gears, lobster traps, fishing methods and strategies and other factors such as licences, markets, licence movements, etc. The report contains too much data to publish in our Bulletin. Here are nevertheless a few general conclusions made in the report :

« Better boats with powerful engines, echo-sounders with color screens and Loran C allowed fishermen to exploit new fishing territories because the equipment was now able to give a precise definition of the sea floor and substratum. At the same time, disc haulers and the development of more powerful hydraulic systems have allowed the fishing effort to increase because fishermen can now lift more traps in a day. By increasing the size of boats, the total charge of traps possible to carry in one trip has also increased. By having more traps on the boat and less by line, the number of crew members increased. »

Omer Chouinard a former employee of the MFU, said he was willing to meet with fishermen from different regions to present the results from the study in more details. Interested fishermen are invited to contact Maurice Thériault at MFU Head Office to organize a presentation in their region.

Frank Mclaughlin, Zoël Breau and Ronnie Cormier were re-elected by acclamation at the positions of President, Secretary Treasurer and Vice President for New Brunswick. Herb Nash replaced Emmett Jessome as Vice President for Nova Scotia.

New Brunswick and Gaspé A Common Project for an Inshore Zone

The Gaspé fishermen represented by the Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels de Gaspé and fishermen from the east coast of New Brunswick represented by the MFU agreed on the inshore zone issue and submitted a demand to Minister Anderson. The zone would include a Québec-New Brunswick joint area in the Bay of Chaleurs paired with an exclusive south Gaspé zone situated north-east of the Bay of Chaleurs a north-east New Brunswick zone from Miscou to Miramichi, and a Northumberland Strait zone. The following text is part of the proposition that has been sent to the Minister :

The proposed limits are those of the traditional inshore fishing grounds of the south of Gaspé and Acadian fishermen, grounds on which they have practiced ecological fishing for over 300 years without ever putting any of its fishing resources in jeopardy. As well, it is the natives' ancestral fishing grounds on which they have built more than 3,000 years of fishing history and to which they also want to have access.

It is urgent to give back to the traditional inshore users these grounds from which they have literally been banished over the past thirty years by an industrial fishing industry out of control, conceived with no regards to the specific nature of the Bay of Chaleur by bureaucrats anxious to jump onto the industrial bandwagon which resulted over the years in the series of collapses in fishing stocks, the last example being the collapse of the cod, which cost the Canadian population 2 billion dollars.

Unfortunately, there still exists a good number of bureaucrats involved in the fishing industry who support this industrial design even though it has proven to be synonymous with ruin and desolation not only in eastern Canada but all over the world.

Time goes by quickly and it is legitimate for inshore fishermen to hope that they'll someday be able to live decently and pass down something to their descendants. In this sense, the inshore fishermen share the concerns of the FAO (UN) relating to traditional fishing.

They also consider themselves victims of an unspeakable injustice because they are the only ones who did not obtain again access to the inshore resources along the Gaspé and Acadian coast, access that was taken away by the industrial fishery and its defenders. In snow crab for example, every other region in the Gulf obtained access to the inshore. The last two regions to gain access were northern Gaspésie (1994) and the eastern coast of Newfoundland (1994).

Co-Management Workshop

The Maritime Fishermen's Union held a workshop on Co-Management last January in Moncton. Workshop participants not only included 30 of our own delegates but also representatives from the Québec Alliance of Professional Fishermen, the P.E.I.F.A., the E.F.F. and the Council of Professional Fish Harvesters. Participants reached a consensus on a number of points regarding co-management policy.

General Conclusions

Co-management approaches must be "de-linked" from DFO's push to privatize the resource. In particular, there should be an end to imposed IQs on the industry. Co-management approaches must also be separated from the cost down-loading preoccupations of DFO.

The concept of 'economic viability' is problematic as a fisheries management objective. A more broad-based approach to viability is needed. This includes DFO managing resources to make the collectivity of fishing enterprises more viable rather than using a narrow economic unit analysis that leads to conclusions that ignore impacts on communities, on jobs, and on the total fishing fleet.

New Fisheries Act

Guests speakers and participants expressed important concerns about upcoming changes in the new Fisheries Act that allow for partnerships agreements. They asked that the law guarantee the transparency of the negotiating process for all co-management or partnering agreements. Transparency must be present during the negotiation process. Not only after the agreement has already been finalized between the parties.

Broad-based organizations must also have a guaranteed say over partnering agreements that impact their sector. The Act also would have to be much clearer about who should be a partner and specify generally recognized representative organizations.

There are concerns that Ministerial authority with regard to allocations is being alienated. Consequently, where resource allocations are part of an agreement, there should also be provision for adjustment in such allocation. To be fair and effective such adjustments cannot rely solely on a mechanical formula ; there must also be a procedure for representation and appeal from the broader community of practicing fishermen. A related concerns is also the lack of specified time limits for an agreement.


Participants agreed that a positive co-management approach must be based on multi-species fleets to avoid fragmentation through species-based agreements and ensure broad-based organizations play a key role in negotiations. The following projects were cited as potential co-management material within such a wider approach : fishermen registration system, community based management regimes, industry control over capacity reduction, and licensing changes.

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Workshop on Lobster Management

Around 80 fishermen from area 33 and 34 took part in a workshop on lobster management in Yarmouth on February 26 and 27. Fishermen worked together in order to comply with Minister Anderson's request asking fishermen to bring forward measures that will double the egg production. The discussion turned around implementations of several potential measures including:

Participants agreed to go back to their wharf and discuss the implementation of the following measures with their fellow fishermen:

Fishermen made it clear that those recommendations are to be submitted for the approval of their fishermen and that they could be modified if better ideas are found to increase egg production. Of course, all the measures taken would also have to be followed by the offshore lobster fishery.

The lobster fishery in LFA 34

After very good catch results last fall, fishermen in area 34 (SW Nova Scotia) are having a winter fishery closer to average. Some fishermen have been reporting weak catches (from 100 to 200 lbs per trip) but it's nothing out of the ordinary for this time of the year.

The weather has been beautiful and fishermen were able to fish a little bit more than usual. Fishermen are receiving between $7.50 and $8.00 per lb for their lobster compared to the $5.00 they were getting in December.

Dues Legislation in Nova Scotia
will only take effect in one area

Only one region has voted in favor of obligatory dues deduction in Nova Scotia with a sufficient level of participation for the legislation to apply. Fishermen from region 3, the eastern coast of Nova Scotia (east of Halifax), voted 114 to 111 in favor of the legislation which means 66% of fishermen voted. For the legislation to apply, a majority of fishermen had to vote yes and at least 60% of fishermen had to vote.

The region between Halifax and Shelbourne rejected the proposition 167 to 134 with a 64% participation rate.

The region from Shelbourne to Yarmouth voted 393 to 350 against the obligatory dues deductions with a participation rate of 53%.

In region 6, Digby to the frontier of New Brunswick, the vote was 145 in favor to 112 against and the participation rate was of 58%. The legislation almost passed.

Last year, regions 1 and 2 voted in favor of the implementation of the legislation but with insufficient participation rates. The law provides for a two year delay before another vote can be taken.

These results are hard to interpret because some of the fishermen who did not take the time to vote or voted against the legislation may have done so because they believed the legislation didn't go far enough or the minimum dues amount wasn't high enough.


The Multilateral Agreement on Investment and the Fishery

The Canadian Council and the Canadian Center for Alternative Policies fear the consequences of the multilateral accord on investments (MAI) that Canada is presently negotiating with 28 other countries.

In the fisheries sector, there are fears that Canada might lose a lot of its management powers in its own territorial waters to ensure the greater liberty of capital movement. Under such an agreement, everything that is sold in Canada would have to be equally available to foreigners which could be in contradiction with management measures that presently limit the possession of quotas to Canadians.

Under the same logic, the obligation to land fish in Canada could be considered as an obstacle to commerce and trade. The MAI negotiations are predicted to wrap up in the month of May. The accord will then have to be adopted by the legislative assembly of each signatory country.

Bulletin is the newsletter of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.
It is published in both English and French every six weeks.

Send all inquiries to:
The Maritime Fishermen's Union
Shediac, New Brunswick, EOA 3GO
Tel: (506) 532-2485 or Fax: 9506) 532-2487
Layout: Maurice Thériault

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