For immediate release
Bill C-68 – New Fisheries Act Op Ed
History was made last week when our federal government passed Bill C-68, a new and modernized Fisheries Act. The fisheries act was enacted in 1868, one year after the confederation of Canada. This bill restores lost protections for fish and fish habitat that were gutted many years ago by the previous federal government.
I stood proudly alongside Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson last week when he announced the good news regarding C-68 to members of the media in Ottawa. It truly was a historic day.
We worked hard to pass C-68 through parliament, alongside supporters from various independent fishing organizations from across the country, particularly the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Federation and their president, Melanie Sonnenberg.
The new Fisheries Act has been applauded by conservation groups. The Conservation Council of New Brunswick recently posted the following on their Facebook page about C-68: “Canada is now once again a world leader in protecting fish and the rivers, lakes and oceans they call home.” (Conservation Council of New Brunswick Facebook page, Thursday June 20, 2019).
Canada is the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia. The modernized fisheries act now includes the ban of shark finning. It is estimated that more than 63 million sharks are killed per year in the illegal shark fin trade. With the changes from this bill, Canada is the only G20 Nation to ban shark finning.
The Fisheries Act will legally protect our commitment in Atlantic Canada regarding owner-operator and fleet separation. Combined, these significant advancements will help the fishery and those communities who rely on it today, and they will continue to have positive impacts for future generations.
For many years, I have had ongoing discussions with fish harvesters about the importance of owner-operator and fleet separation policies and how they were being circumvented by controlling agreements. These controlling agreements threatened the independence of the inshore and mid-shore fleets by removing the control of licenses from individual harvesters to larger corporate interests.
In 2015, I promised to push for changes to owner-operator provisions and I was pleased to speak on Bill C-68 which enshrines owner-operator provisions into law. This is the strongest stance any government has taken on owner-operator and fleet separation law. Independent fish harvesters should have the protections they need to ensure the wealth and value flowing from our fisheries remain in our local coastal communities.
In many places across Atlantic Canada, the fishery is the economic, social, and cultural heart of our communities. Fish harvesters have made it clear they need greater protection for their economic security, and they need help to ensure their economic independence. Protecting the owner-operator will preserve the opportunity for future generations to access licenses.
We are pleased to be moving forward with what we believe is extremely important for the fishing industry, for their families, and for the coastal communities who rely so heavily on a strong, sustainable, and prosperous fishery.
I want to give special recognition to those who helped bring the new Fisheries Act to fruition including Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association, Fundy North Fishermen’s Association, and the Maritime Fishermen’s Association.
Together, we just made history.
Karen Ludwig, Member of Parliament, New Brunswick Southwest