It looks like Iceland and the small handful of bottom feeding nations that use dragger and bottom trawlers won a victory at the UN this week. However I am pleased to say it was without the help of Canada.
Trawling moratorium ends up dead in the water
While New Zealand, the Pacific Island States, the United States, Brazil, India, South Africa, Germany and even previously reluctant Spain and Canada supported stronger action, the desire to achieve a consensus meant Iceland's interests won out over common sense and the science, Fuller said.
The call for a moratorium on high seas dragging has merely brought to the fore a contradiction in Canadian fisheries policy. While on the international stage Canada has consistently adopted a progressive position and pushed for stronger multilateral conservation instruments, domestically the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not wavered in its support for the destructive practice of dragging. Despite the incontrovertible evidence that dragging destroys critical fish habitat — in flagrant violation of the Fisheries Act — the Department has steadfastly stood behind the practice and the powerful economic interests that benefit from it.
The reasons for this are complex and part of an unresolved domestic debate about how we should be conducting our fisheries within our 200-mile jurisdictional limit. The debate has faded away since we imposed our own Atlantic groundfish moratorium and sold off our industrial groundfish dragger fleet but it will return with a vengeance if and when our cod stocks on the East Coast do recover.
Who was behind Canada's reluctance to support the international accord, well pressure from our domestic trawling industry, the fish packing companies. They were worried that if the UN declaration passed they would be next in line for being banned from using dragging in our domestic waters.
Patrick McGuinness, the council's president, said: “Blunt instruments such as across the board bans do not work and, in this instance, would result in the perverse outcome of benefiting flag-of-convenience vessels that disregard all regulations.”
“Responsible fishing nations, such as Canada, will use the resolution to bring forward precautionary and targeted regulations that will govern their fishing vessels when they encounter sensitive areas such as seamounts, concentrations of deep sea corrals, etc.”
Canada has a fleet of bottom trawlers operating within Canadian waters. Its concern has been that a moratorium on the high seas could later be expanded to cover areas within national jurisdiction.
Ottawa opposes moratorium on bottom dragging
And shrimpers use draggers and bottom trawlers.
It appears that Canada's big fishing industry had the ear of Ottawa in particular the ear of the PM the quy who once called Atlantic Canada a basketcase. And thus they had the support of Loyola Hearn.
However in an interesting article by Jim Meek in the Chronicle Herald points out all is not lost and that this might be an opportunity to actually reform both our domestic trawling operations as well as those on the high seas. But that would actually mean listening to the fishermen not the big industry players.
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