LIAISON COMMITTEE BETWEEN FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA AND THE HARVESTING SECTOR

MINUTES FROM THE NOVEMBER 25, 2014 MEETING

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Participants present
ORGANIZATION Representative
INDUSTRY
Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec (APPQ) O. Cloutier
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels de la Haute et Moyenne Côte-Nord (RPPHMCN) Absent
Fédération des pêcheurs semi-hauturiers du Québec Réginald Cotton
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG) Oneil Cloutier
Association des pêcheurs-propriétaires des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (APPIM) Absent
Regroupement des palangriers et pétoncliers uniques madelinot (RPPUM) Absent
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RPPIM) Marcel Cormier
Groupe de pêcheurs de la 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) Absent
Association des capitaines-propriétaires de la Gaspésie (ACPG) Jean-Pierre Couillard
Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie Absent
Association des pêcheurs de crabe de la zone 17 René Landry (C. Gosselin - observateur)
Association des crabiers Gaspésiens Daniel Desbois
Office des pêcheurs de crabe des neiges de la zone 16 Absent
AUTOCHTONES
Agence Mamu Innu Kaikusshet (AMIK) Pierre Léonard
Secrétariat Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Absent
Communauté malécite de Viger Absent
Association de gestion halieutique autochtone Mi'kmaq et Malécite Emmanuel Sandt-Duguay

HARBOUR AUTHORITIES

One member Pierre Léonard
DFO
Permanent members

  • Regional Director General
  • Regional Director, Fisheries Management
  • Regional Director, Policy and Economic
  • Marine area Directors (3)

 

Richard Nadeau
Patrick Vincent
Julie Lavallée
Vincent Malouin, France Simard,Martin St-Gelais, Luc Boucher

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

  • Regional Director, Small Craft Harbours
  • Regional Director, Science
  • Regional Director, Ecosystems Management

 

Anne Lagacé
Gordon Walsh

Observers present :  

 Fisheries Management, Communication, Policy and Economics

Raynald Gosselin, Denis Gros Louis
Pascale Fortin,  Michel Plamondon, Félix Dionne

MAPAQ
Permanent member Denis Desrosiers
(Rabia Sow – observatrice)
Casual member (as needed, depending on the items discussed) Absent

MINUTES

1 - Welcome

Richard Nadeau welcomes all the participants to the meeting.   He says that this is the second face-to-face meeting and that a lot of progress has been made in the past year.  He also announces that some national topics are being or will be addressed at meetings scheduled with the Fédération des pêcheurs indépendants. As a result, he suggests that those wishing to obtain additional information contact representatives of the associations serving on the Federation’s board. In terms of regional issues, he reminds participants that a small working committee was established during the summer, which focused on more regional policy aspects that will be discussed this morning.

Patrick Vincent ends this introduction by outlining the day’s schedule, based on the agenda which was previously distributed.

2 - Report on the Small Working Groups’ work on the fish management policy review

Patrick Vincent outlines the special committee’s mandate and mentions the names of the committee members.  The Committee completed its work during a conference call and a half-day meeting held in Québec City October 29, 2014.  The Committee selected two main topics and submitted them to the Liaison Committee as a recommendation and for validation. This Liaison Committee must decide whether or not to endorse their recommendations.

Raynald Gosselin presents both topics covered by the special committee.   There was a discussion period after each topic was presented.

a) Policy review - Proposed modifications and arrangements :

  • The relief proposal on how fishing enterprises are structured 1 (buddying up) raised few questions since this type of arrangement now exists in some Quebec fisheries.  However, the associations were asked to assess whether this proposal can interest their members in other fisheries.
  • The discussions mainly focused on arrangement proposals 2 and 3 (merger of enterprises in the same area and/or different areas). There are only a few fisheries where companies have merged (e.g.: Lobster – Gaspé, Whelk – some areas).
  • All agree that this type of disposition (fishing company mergers) provides economic benefits for fishers while ensuring the sustainability of their fishing enterprises.  However, the main issue raised by participants is the maximum number of fishing licences / same species a fisher is entitled to in order to ensure the succession is still able to buy a fishing enterprise at an affordable price.  Some hoped that the rules that will govern the structure of fishing companies be ethical and legitimate in order to promote a healthy environment.

The Liaison Committee endorsed the recommendations / proposals of the special committee. Thus, fishermen’s organizations are asked to consult their members and discuss the relief proposals. However, they will have to define the relief guidelines before making a request to the Department such as:

    1. What fishery would these relief measures cover? ;
    2. What merger guidelines could be authorized without this leading to a concentration of licences in the hands of a few individuals (e.g.: maximum number of licences per fisher, etc.)? ;

DFO also agreed to provide the current ground rules for the various fleets.

DFO says that for an application to be eligible, a broad consensus (≥ 66%) is required following a clear and transparent consultation process involving the greatest number of fishers. The participants were also reminded that DFO will evaluate each application based on sound fisheries management practices (e.g. monitoring of catches and compliance with licence conditions by Conservation and Protection officers, etc.).

Summary of next steps:

For DFO

  • Evaluation of relief proposals that the organizations will submit to DFO for approval. If approval is granted, initiate implementation.

For fishers' representatives

  • Consultation with their respective members to determine whether the proposed relief measures can be applied to their fleet.

b) Professionalization of fishers – Proposal to modify eligibility criteria for acquiring a coastal fishing company :

During the discussion period, participants recognize that:

  • Every aspect of the fisher’s trade has undergone tremendous change over the last 30 to 40 years (navigation, fishing techniques, safety at sea, technology, administration, enterprise value, etc.);
  • Fishers must now have all the skills required to manage a fishing enterprise in 2014;
  • Transport Canada recently changed its regulations, and fishers are now obliged to acquire all necessary navigation skills.
  • The proposed eligibility criteria are consistent with Transport Canada and Government of Quebec regulations on the professionalization of fishers;
  • The fisher’s trade needs to be upgraded.  To achieve this objective, new entrants must have all the necessary skills before they can purchase a fishing enterprise;
  • Required training courses are now decentralized (also given by school boards), except navigation simulator courses;
  • Access to capital (loan in financial institutions) is facilitated if fishers can demonstrate they have all the skills required;
  • The Bureau d’accréditation des pêcheurs et des aides-pêcheurs du Québec (BAPAP) is the appropriate body for delivering certificates attesting that a person meets the requirements;
  • A grace period would be required before the new criteria came into force. DFO will check with TC to confirm the date on which its new regulations come into force in order to ensure our requirements remain consistent with theirs.
  • The new criteria will apply only to those who wish to acquire a fishing enterprise (full-time fisher / fisher or fisher helper not holding licences). Existing licence holders and Aboriginals are excluded.

Following the discussion period, there is a broad consensus among the Liaison Committee members in favour of changing the current eligibility criteria.  The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du Nord de la Gaspésie (RPPNG) representative was the only member very reluctant to change.

Summary of next steps:

For DFO

  • Check with Transport Canada to confirm the date on which their vessel regulations come into force.
  • Draft a memo to the Minister informing it of the new criteria that new entrants in the Quebec Region will be required to meet.
  • Issue a Notice to Fishers

For fishers’ representatives

  • Inform their respective members when the new criteria will be approved by DFO.

3 - Oil and Gas Exploration and Development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Gordon Walsh, Regional Director Ecosystems Management, says the fishers asked to have this item placed on the Liaison Committee meeting agenda. He delivers a presentation to inform the committee on the assessment and approval processes that apply in Eastern Canada for oil and gas exploration and development projects and DFO’s role in this matter.

He says DFO is not responsible for the oil industry. Natural Resources Canada and the Offshore Petroleum Boards that NRCan has established are in fact responsible. DFO’s role is to support existing processes by providing information and advice in its areas of responsibility, i.e. implementation of provisions under the Fisheries Act covering fish and fisheries protection, and the Species at Risk Act (for aquatic species at risk). Finally, he asks the fishers to voice their concerns to the proper authorities and during the various assessment and approval processes.

A discussion period followed and the fishers stated the following points of view:

  •  Fishers are not against oil production, but are very concerned;
  • There are tremendous risks and repercussions for fishers from the coastal communities along the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Maritimes);
  • A contingency plan does not provide a sufficient guarantee;
  • Currently, authorities in Eastern Canada are not equipped to respond to disasters;
  • Aboriginal communities in Quebec have already positioned themselves against any oil production project in the Gulf of St. Lawrence;
  • Because they have little power to intervene, members of the fishing industry on the committee would like DFO to speak on behalf of fishers and express their concerns.

DFO reminds the participants that it is not responsible for oil and gas regulations. It supports and will continue to support existing processes as part of its responsibilities. DFO says the advice it provides addresses, inter alia, fisheries resources and fishing itself. That said, DFO invites fishers to express their concerns to the authorities and increase awareness of these issues through the various environmental assessment processes.

Summary of next steps:

For DFO

  • Support the assessment and approval processes and for oil and gas exploration and development projects.

4 - Develop a network of marine protected areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Anne Lagacé, Ecosystem Management Branch, delivers a presentation on the subject (previously circulated document).   Committee members made several comments on the American Bank project. The DFO Regional Director General, Richard Nadeau responded to these concerns in his December 5, 2014 email (see attached document).

Summary of next steps:

For Fishers’ representatives

  • Submit their comments to DFO.
  • Request an information meeting with DFO, if necessary.

For DFO

  • DFO will assess the possibility of other consultation meetings on the subject if a request is made.

5 - Items for the next meeting

Topics related to the Science Branch’s mandate (to be determined):

  • Members of the industry would also like to discuss scientific topics such as the indicators that cod are returning to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Patrick Vincent said DFO was open to having a discussion at an upcoming Liaison Committee meeting in 2015 on the changes observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  However, in order to help guide the work, the Liaison Committee members are asked to formulate specific questions so DFO Science experts can prepare their work and presentations accordingly.  Patrick Vincent distributes summaries of the projects DFO has undertaken under the Climate Change Program.  Several projects have dealt with the effects that changing conditions in the Gulf have on fish stocks and in this context, many of the fishers’ questions and comments may have already been addressed by research projects whose results are available to the public.  Patrick Vincent encourages the Liaison Committee members to familiarize themselves with the research projects, and draw on them to draft the remaining questions that scientists should review to fuel Liaison Committee discussions.

Summary of next steps:

For fishers’ representatives

  • Read the summaries of the International Finance Corporation-Canada Climate Change Programme projects.
  • Draft questions to help DFO Science prepare for a discussion at a Liaison Committee meeting in 2015.

For DFO

  • Ask fishers’ organizations to submit questions, and prepare for a discussion at a Liaison Committee meeting in 2015.

6 - Miscellaneous

  • The Fédération des pêcheurs semi-hauturiers du Québec has filed a written request (letter dated November 24, 2014, attached) indicating it would appreciate relief under the substitute operator policy (e.g.: replacements for more personal reasons such as vacation).  This topic will be discussed at a future meeting.
  • DFO is asked about the possibility of receiving funding for projects related to fishing gear selectivity.  The philosophy behind this request is to "promote the sorting of fish on the bottom rather than onboard" to conserve the resource.

We ask you to contact Danie Gagné at (418) 648-5783 to obtain copy of appendixes or any other information.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 4 p.m.

Minutes drafted by Raynald Gosselin with the help of Julie Lavallée and Félix Dionne.