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Sustainability not politics should drive management of fishery – it starts with a crackdown on illegal fishing

Press Release

Coalition releases the “BIG 10” demands for Fisheries and Oceans to keep the fishery healthy

SHEDIAC, NB, Sept. 18, 2020 – After repeated calls for action in the face of illegal fishing, the Coalition of Atlantic and Québec Fishing Organization has released a set of 10 demands for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to make sure that the fisheries remain sustainable and healthy for everyone.  The “BIG 10” are based on the knowledge and expertise of front-line fishermen and are a call to action for everyone who cares about a strong fishery.

“We’ve seen governments in the past make decisions about the fisheries based on politics and they nearly destroyed Canada’s fisheries,” said Bernie Berry, President of the Coldwater Lobster Association.  “That should never happen again. The top priority driving any decision on the management of the fisheries should be sustainability not politics.”

In the face of illegal fishing across the Atlantic, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans inconsistently enforcing the rules, fishermen have begun to peacefully organize in their communities and across the Atlantic and Quebec region to fight for a healthy fishery.

“Fishermen care about the future sustainability of the fishery and they expect DFO to step up and enforce the rules across the board,” says O’Neil Cloutier, Director, Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie.

Fishermen across the region are calling on DFO to act.

“We will not stand by while the Department of Fisheries and Oceans inconsistently enforces the rules.  There needs to be a full crackdown on illegal fishing and the sale of illegally harvested fish immediately,” said, Martin Mallet, Executive Director of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.  “More enforcement, bigger fines and more serious penalties need to be put on the table right now.”

The “BIG 10” include positive steps such as better enforcement, more funding for enforcement and the Government of Canada, Indigenous leaders and fishing organizations working directly together to manage the fisheries.  “We are ready to work together with the Government of Canada and Indigenous leaders to ensure there is a healthy fishery for everyone,” said Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association President Bobby Jenkins.  “Our Big 10 Demands are about action now and concrete immediate steps to find solutions before the fishery is at risk.”

The BIG 10 Demands

  1. At the Table – Commitment in principle from the Government of Canada that any talks about the existing agreements and future management of the fisheries MUST include fishing organizations.  This commitment should be part of the Minister’s mandate letter and in the Speech from the Throne.

  2. Direct Talks – A public commitment from the Government of Canada to have direct talks on the management of the fisheries between DFO, Indigenous leaders and leaders of the Coalition.

  3. Immediate Action on the Water – That enforcement on the water by DFO increase immediately.  All out of season commercial fishing should stop.

  4. Sustainability – That DFO go back to the one-in one-out approach on banked commercial licenses. Any additional licenses should be bought back for the sustainability of the lobster fishery.

  5. Coordinated Enforcement – The Government of Canada will co-ordinate enforcement and penalties with Provincial governments to ensure illegal buying activity cannot restart.

  6. Public Commitment – A public commitment by the Government of Canada that there be one set of rules which will be enforced by DFO on illegal harvesting, sales and purchasing.

  7. First Nations Licenses – That licenses issued for Indigenous Peoples be harvested by Indigenous Peoples only.

  8. More Enforcement – That more funding be announced in the Speech from the Throne for DFO to enforce regulations related to both the harvesting, sales and purchase of illegally harvested fish.

  9. Bigger Fines, stiffer penalties – For those that fish illegally and those that sell illegally caught fish, more serious sanctions for breaking the rules including more fines and the seizure of assets.

  10. Public Education – For the Government of Canada to roll-out a public education campaign, developed in conjunction with fishing organizations, on the consequences of illegally harvesting, selling or buying fish.


Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie
Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU)
PEI Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA)
Fundy North Fishermen’s Association (FNFA)
Cape Breton Fish Harvesters Association (CBFHA)
Coldwater Lobster Association (CLA)
Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association (BoFIFA)
Scotia Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association (SFIFA)
Brazil Rock 33/34 Lobster Association
Gulf Nova Scotia Bonafide Fishermen’s Association (GNSBFA)
Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association (GCIFA)
Eastern Shore Fishermen’s Protective Association (ESPFA)
Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board (GNSFPB)

For further information: MEDIA Contact: Martin Mallet, Executive Director, Maritime Fishermen’s Union, [email protected], (506) 531-5391, (506) 532-2485


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