Liaison committee between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Quebec Harvesting Sector

Meeting Minutes from November 27, 2013

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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 Réginald Cotton
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) Pierre Chevrier
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels des Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RPPIM) Marcel Cormier
Groupe des pêcheurs Zone F Inc. Jérôme Landry
Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du Nord de la Gaspésie (RPPNG) André Boucher and 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 Marc Diotte
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 Yvan Cloutier
ABORIGINAL ORGANIZATIONS
Agence Mamu Innu Kaikusseht (AMIK) Pierre Léonard
Mi'kmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association Emmanuel Sandt-Duguay

HARBOUR AUTHORITIES

One member Pierre Léonard
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
V. Malouin, M. St-Gelais, S. Leblanc

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

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

 

 

Gordon Walsh

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 points out the excellent attendance at this meeting. He reminds that the purpose of the Liaison Committee is to share information on coming changes and to ensure that these changes do not negatively affect Quebec fishers by gathering views of the industry and making sure that the their needs are taken into consideration.

Mr. Nadeau adds that as part of the Liaison Committee and in the context of this meeting, DFO would like to keep discussion at a rather high level and avoid discussing individual cases to make sure that we focus on areas of agreement instead of focusing on discrepancies.

Two participants request additions to the agenda: gear tags (O’Neil Cloutier) and at-sea observers (Réginald Cotton). These items were generally covered in item 5.

2 - Overview of the Analysis of the Various Requests Made by Québec Region’s Fleets to DFO

Patrick Vincent explains that in the last few years, many fleets have submitted requests to DFO to change some specific fisheries management rules. These requests would generally need to make changes to fisheries policies. Patrick Vincent reminds the participants that for DFO, the changes that are made to the policies must follow the expression of a need from the industry, and not the opposite. It is against this background that the analysis of the requests received is presented today.
Raynald Gosselin presents the results of the review of requests made by the industry, and the policies that could be amended to answer those requests. Afterward, the representatives are asked to state their priorities and whether they want these policy amendments to be discussed at the Liaison Committee level or on a smaller or larger scale.

The comments received include:

General

  1. The participants generally agree on the relevance of discussing fisheries policy amendments at the Liaison Committee level and say that they openly and favourably receive DFO’s initiative.
  2. Some also say that the industry should be at the root of the changes and that DFO is there to support them because fleet profitability and coastal community viability is, above all, the industry’s business (whereas the Department focuses on conservation).
  3. Many say that trying to reach a consensus at all costs will not work. Some think that the Department should play a sort of arbiter’s role and go ahead when the amendments seem to be to the benefit of most groups.
  4. Others say that some changes may be poorly received by some fleets, and that this has to be considered.
  5. Many say that they are strongly opposed to amendments to the fleet independence policy.
  6. One participant suggests that the Liaison Committee first tackle the more consensual issues within the industry, such as transfer of responsibility and costs. Subsequently, less consensual policy amendments could be considered by conducting a detailed impact analysis to get a look at the big picture and to ensure that everyone has the same understanding of it.

More specific

  1. Regarding slide #10, which refers to the potential abolition of the rule that prohibits the issuing of two licences for the same species, but for two different areas, to a single holder, some participants believe that there are already exceptions to this rule (after validation, it is not the case).
  2. Mr. Cloutier says that the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters Federation, whose work will begin December 5 in Moncton, already plans to tackle the issue of family trusts and does not want the Liaison Committee to duplicate the same work. However, consultation with Quebec fleets, not all of which are represented in Atlantic-wide discussions, will be essential. Mr. Cloutier is asked to inform DFO and the Liaison Committee of the next steps in creating the Federation and the steps taken that could make the Liaison Committee’s work easier.
  3. Several members say that amendments to the maximum vessel length policy may be needed, especially since in other DFO regions, the maximum authorized lengths have already been changed. They would like more information about this, especially for the west coast of Newfoundland-and-Labrador.

Below is a summary of identified areas of agreement:

  1. An overall consensus would be difficult, but consensuses on specific items are still possible
  2. There is openness to change from the industry
  3. It is suggested to start with changes on which there is a consensus
  4. There is a need to know both positive and negative impacts
  5. Clients are in the best position to suggest changes
  6. Representatives of the industry do not want changes that could lead to licences being issued to processors (e.g. in western Canada)
  7. The changes must lead to benefits for coastal communities

In addition, despite some questioning on the Committee's representativeness, DFO and the industry participants agreed to act as the intermediary for groups that are absent or not members of the Liaison Committee. However, opposition that may be voiced by these groups must go through the Committee without being discussed directly with the Department at the same time.

The representatives in attendance are asked to speak to their members about the changes proposed in the presentation and to share their priorities and concerns. Issues that are common to the entire industry can then be discussed at the Liaison Committee level. Other issues can be dealt with by fleet, sector or on a much larger scale (e.g. with other Atlantic stakeholders). MAPAQ could be involved in certain changes and participate in the discussions, if necessary.

A Web site for the Liaison Committee will soon be created and can be used to share relevant information and updates. The link will be sent to the participants and can be distributed to anyone interested.

In the coming weeks, DFO will have more information on the proposed changes. The information will be posted on the Liaison Committee Web site. Comments from the participants on the proposed changes will be asked for at the next meeting, which will be by teleconference sometime in the winter.

Summary of next steps:

For DFO

  1. Overview of maximum authorized vessel lengths
  2. Addition of information about the various proposals
  3. Addition of a regional Web site and/or information sent by email or fax

For fisher representatives

  1. Consult members and suggest changes between now and the next Liaison Committee meeting (Winter 2014)
  2. Inform DFO about the outcomes of the consultations

3 - Information on the American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Quebec City in August 2014

The 144th American Fisheries Society (AFS) annual meeting will be hosted by DFO in Quebec City in August 2014. Normally focused on freshwater fisheries, this AFS conference will focus much more on the saltwater fisheries. Three components of the meeting may be of interest to fishers’ associations: symposia presenting technological and fisheries management developments, the trade show, and the opportunity to make financial or in-kind contributions for meals or other purposes that offer visibility and promote the Quebec industry's achievements.

For more information, participants can visit the meeting's Web site (http://afs2014.org/) or contact Louise Deschênes.

4 - Species at Risk Act – Update on the status of cod, redfish and flounder

Gordon Walsh, Regional Director of Ecosystems Management, presents information on the Species at Risk Act.

He reminds that DFO has sent information to the fishing industry’s representatives about the Species at Risk Act and the consultation process that started on November 1st and ending on January 31, 2014 regarding the proposed listing of Atlantic Cod, American Plaice and redfish. Questionnaires and information summaries were sent by mail and/or email to the groups concerned. It is important that the fishing industry shares its views and concerns. Consultation meetings can be requested. Completed questionnaires or comments in another format can be sent by email or in the mail. The Department will collect information and concerns from the industry. The consultation report will be published this winter. This process is also ongoing in other administrative regions of DFO where these species are found.

Following the consultation, DFO will review the comments received and make a recommendation to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The procedure will take about one more year to complete, after which the Federal Cabinet will decided if each of these species should be listed or not.
Mr. Walsh also took the opportunity to inform the participants that the industry will also be consulted in the coming months on the Eastern Canada Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy.
The participants are very concerned about the possibility of these groundfish species being added to the list of species at risk. There would be major economic impacts on fleets that participate in directed fisheries for these species or take them as incidental catches. Moreover, several participants question the validity of the scientific data used to assess stocks of these species. They say that these data are not up to date and that there are gaps in the data collected by DFO, especially with regard to sentinel fisheries. It is mentioned that more consideration should be given to local knowledge in the analysis. It is also mentioned that Gulf of St. Lawrence fishers, in addition to being affected by the cod moratorium, are suffering the consequences of the seal product ban in Europe and that the increasing seal herd contributes to endangering cod recovery. The possibility of hydrocarbon development in the marine environment is another threat to the fishing industry.
Some participants questioned the accuracy of the data used by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in the production of its 2010 report on cod. Some stated that the situation observed has greatly changed in recent years and believe that the analysis should have been updated before the consultation stage because the overview currently presented is much too alarmist. Some say that recent data from at-sea observers could especially help provide a more accurate picture. Another question: How were socio-economic analyses conducted and when will they be available? Mr. Walsh indicates that since the COSEWIC reports were published, DFO’S Science Branch has produced scientific advisory reports (recovery potential assessments) for which the updated data was used.

Several associations, especially on the Lower North Shore and the Magdalen Islands, will request meetings.

Gordon Walsh asks the industry representatives to share their information through questionnaires or at meetings so that the Department can make informed recommendations on whether or not to list the groundfish species in question. Under the Species at Risk Act, DFO is required to carry out the process following COSEWIC recommendations considering the best information available. As a result, it must ensure that all relevant information is considered.

Information summaries are available upon request; simply contact DFO by email at LEP-SARA-QC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca or by telephone at 1-877-775-0848. Socio-economic analysis summaries will be available soon. More information is also available at the following links:

Summary of next steps:
For DFO

  1. Provide the electronic link for scientific reports (see above)
  2. Provide information on sentinel fisheries (see above)
  3. Hold consultation meetings
  4. Review comments and continue the process

Fisher representatives

  1. Request consultation meetings by November 29, 2013
  2. Provide comments and concerns by January 31, 2014

5 - Review of fisheries management tools

Mathieu Bergeron presents an initiative on monitoring and compliance tools that the Department has undertaken in order to improve its management tools and reduce costs to fishers, namely with regard to dockside monitoring, at-sea observers, the vessel monitoring system, etc. This exercise is conducted systematically, but may not address all industry concerns for the time being. In particular, the Department reviews all information collected from fishers in order to identify what may not be essential for stock management and assessment. A pilot project is underway with the Area 17 Snow Crab fleet.

On the whole, the participants are satisfied with DFO’s initiative and interested in the pilot project being extended to the other fleets.

Regarding at-sea observers, although the participants seem to agree with not reducing coverage rates in order to avoid affecting the industry’s credibility on the markets, they discuss several problems, namely supplier shortage, service cost (especially in remote areas), local labour shortage, and lack of control and transparency.

Regarding the high service costs in the Magdalen Islands, DFO is exploring short-term solutions for 2014 in order to allow the sentinel fishery to continue. The concept of “fisher-observer” and the integration of a specific module into electronic logbooks are also raised as longer-term solutions. However, both raise the issue of the reliability of data collected.

Looking at the possibility of introducing random dockside monitoring is suggested.
Summary of next steps

  1. Continuing with what the joint working group is doing (Crab area 17)

For DFO

  1. Continue to deal with other issues, namely at-sea observers in the Magdalen Islands and dockside monitoring for groundfish in the Lower North Shore region

6 - Items for the next meeting

The members are asked to suggest items for the next meeting, tentatively scheduled for late February 2014.

7 - Miscellaneous

Gear tags: DFO is awaiting the Ministerial decision for the 2014 season regarding supplier accreditation.

Meeting adjournment: 4:30 p.m.
Minutes written by Evelyne Dufault, December 13, 2013.