Liaison Committee Between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Quebec Harvesting Sector

Minutes from the July 11, 2013 teleconference

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Participants present
ORGANIZATION Representative
INDUSTRY
Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec (APPQ) Absent
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels de la Haute et de la Moyenne Côte-Nord (RPPHMCN) Absent
Fédération des pêcheurs semi-hauturiers du Québec Absent
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG) O'Neil Cloutier
Association des pêcheurs propriétaires des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (APPIM) Absent
Regroupement des palangriers et pétoncliers uniques madelinots (RPPUM) Ghislain Cyr, Pierre Chevrier
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RPPIM) Absent
Groupe des pêcheurs Zone F Inc. Absent
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du Nord de la Gaspésie (RPPNG) Mario Dupuis
Association des pêcheurs de la Basse-Côte-Nord (APBCN) Paul Nadeau
Association des capitaines propriétaires de la Gaspésie (ACPG) Jean-Pierre Couillard
Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie Michel Syvrais
Association des pêcheurs de crabe de la zone 17 René Landry
Association des crabiers gaspésiens Absent
Office des pêcheurs de crabe des neiges de la zone 16 Absent
ABORIGINAL GROUPS
Agence Mamu Innu Kaikusseht (AMIK) Absent
Mi'kmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association Absent

HARBOUR AUTHORITIES

One member Absent
DFO
Permanent members

  • Regional Director General
  • Regional Director, Fisheries Management
  • Regional Director, Policy and Economics
  • Marine area directors (3)

 

Richard Nadeau, Patrick Vincent, Louise Deschênes, Vincent Malouin, Martin St-Gelais, Josée Richard

Observers present: Julie Lavallée, Evelyne Dufault, Johanne Benoit-Guillot, Raynald Gosselin

Casual members (as needed, depending on the items discussed)

  • Regional Director, Small Craft Harbours
  • Regional Director, Science
  • Regional Director, Ecosystems Management
Absent
Observers present

J. Lavallée, E. Dufault, J. Benoit-Guillot, R. Gosselin, M. Bergeron

MAPAQ
Permanent member Paul Morin
Casual member (as needed, depending on the items discussed) Absent

Items

1 - Welcome

Richard Nadeau welcomes the participants and asks the participants to introduce themselves.

He reminds everyone that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss creating a liaison committee. For certain shared concerns, there is no discussion forum that brings together the entire industry. For example, one of DFO's objectives is to determine how to adapt fisheries management policies to accommodate the greatest number of fleets and facilitate their adaptation to current socioeconomic realities. Another DFO objective is to ensure that it can be a vehicle for shared concerns in the Quebec industry in the context of the Fisheries Renewal initiative. The liaison committee will be a great help in this without being a substitute for advisory committees. Exchanges of concerns with regard to owner-operator policies and fleet separation prompted the Atlantic industry to get together to get its message across. The liaison committee, to some extent, has the same objective in a (Quebec) regional perspective (i.e. promote the interests of the Quebec industry).

2 - Adoption of the committee's mandate

The participants are asked to share their opinions on the creation of a liaison committee.

Several express scepticism about the impact that such a committee would have on high-ranking DFO and government authorities. This notably relates to recent Fisheries Act amendments about which Quebec fishers' associations were not consulted. It is noted that in other provinces/regions, the fishing industry is more closely involved in the advisory processes of DFO and other organizations, such as the Canada–Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Some believe that political action may have more of an impact, but that is not the objective of this committee, which remains at the administrative level.

Some participants also express concerns about the workload and the investment in time and energy required to run this committee in light of the benefits that can realistically be foreseen. One example mentioned is the report from the consultation on modernizing fisheries policies, held in January 2012 in the Quebec Region, which allegedly did not fully reflect the opinions expressed. In this case, it is disappointing to see that the energy devoted to this consultation did not result in the benefits participants were hoping for.

Richard Nadeau says that the liaison committee is a regional initiative with many benefits. It will constitute a way of sharing available information on future changes more quickly in order to enable the industry to react in due course. Currently, advisory committees are the only place where this type of information can be disseminated and it is not the most effective way of doing so if a maximum number of fishers' associations must be reached.

The liaison committee will also ensure that the Quebec Region's opinion is fully taken into consideration in the decision-making process. It is important for members of the industry to have more opportunities to discuss their concerns and exchange occasionally conflicting opinions through large-group discussions in order to identify strong shared positions that can be defended by the Quebec Region within DFO. This committee will therefore reduce the impact of the Quebec industry's fragmentation into several groups and associations—a concern raised by participants at this meeting.

Exchanges at the committee level will also facilitate the analysis of the negative and positive impacts of various national initiatives on the Quebec fishing industry. It will therefore be easier to accommodate the fleets as a whole, whereas this process is currently carried out fleet by fleet without looking at the impacts of accommodation on the other groups.

Some participants are concerned about the impact of large-scale fishing enterprises on departmental decisions and say that they fear for the principle of fishers' independence despite Minister Ashfield's commitment not to change owner-operator and fleet separation policies. Others say that the lack of consistency in the regulations among the regions favour some regions over others (e.g. the number of traps allowed is quite different among the regions in Atlantic Canada) and that bureaucracy and the transfer of costs to the industry by DFO threatens the viability of independent fishers. The liaison committee should address these issues that are crucial to fishers.

The DFO representatives duly note the concerns expressed by the participants regarding, among other things, costs to fishers and the impact of oil and gas development in the Gulf.

After discussion, the participants say that they agree to create the liaison committee. Some say that to be useful, the committee should allow advance dissemination to the industry of the directions taken by DFO with regard to fishery policies, as well as the flexibility measures obtained by various fishing fleets in the Atlantic so that each fleet can determine whether it wants to benefit from the same measures, as applicable. The committee should also hold structured, detailed discussions (ideally in-person).

3 - Overview of current and future issues and preferred approach

Patrick Vincent gives an overview of the various initiatives underway at DFO.

The Department has received several requests from associations or groups to change its policies or make them more flexible. Some are still on hold because of capacity issues or lack of cohesion (e.g. family trusts). Some are from DFO Fisheries Management staff and concern facilitating transactions. Most are about lightening the administrative burden on fishers. DFO will review all requests over the summer. In the fall,  it will provide the industry with a list of recommended actions and an analysis of the impacts these changes could have on the other groups. This could be discussed at the next liaison committee meeting.

Some policy changes come from Ottawa (e.g. amendment to section 10 of the Fisheries Act (Use of Fish)). Because of this amendment to the Act, the resource can now be used to fund departmental science activities. The policy that will provide a framework for this section is currently being developed. The industry should be consulted in early fall and the policy should enter into force in early 2014. The industry will be asked for its opinion on eligible partners and activities, among other things.

Some requests regarding policy changes extend beyond the Quebec Region. If other forums are more appropriate for dealing with them, these issues will not be addressed at the liaison committee level. However, this committee could help define Quebec industry's position.

A liaison committee meeting will be organized in the fall. In the meantime, the DFO representatives will contact the committee members in writing or by telephone. Suggestions for agenda items for the next meeting are welcome.

4 - Update on the creation of a federation for independent fishers in Atlantic Canada

O’Neil Cloutier partly answers this question after it was asked in item 2. Specifically, he says that a meeting is scheduled for the following week in Québec to discuss and agree upon the next steps for ensuring the future of the organization.

5 - Items for the next committee meeting

The minutes of this teleconference and a proposed agenda for the next meeting will be distributed to the members for their comments. Members can also contact Evelyne Dufault, Patrick Vincent or Richard Nadeau directly if they have anything they want added to the agenda. Priority items will be those that require quick response.

Some items mentioned in this teleconference could be on the agenda for the next meeting. These items include:

  • Changes to policies being prepared by DFO (Ottawa)
  • Requests made to DFO by various Quebec fleets
  • How to minimize associated costs (at-sea observers, etc.)
  • Flexibility applied in other regions in Atlantic Canada
  • Consistency in regulations among the regions
  • Oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The members will also be sent information about the next meeting.

6 - Other business

None.

7 - Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.