This menu organises news, documents, projects, profiles and links into key topics, and the menu along the top divides the contents of the site by type.
18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Canada will not join call for bottom-trawling ban in international waters
Halifax - Canada will not support a moratorium on bottom trawling in international waters, putting it at odds with a growing number of countries now pressing for restrictions on the controversial fishing practice.
Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn issued the long-awaited decision Friday, saying he doesn't think a moratorium is the most effective way of protecting marine species vulnerable to the huge nets that sweep along the ocean floor.
"Canada, like many other responsible fishing nations, does not see (a moratorium) as the way forward," Heard said in a two-page statement. "Real solutions must be practical, enforceable and fair."
The decision came just days after the United States announced it would push for a temporary moratorium on bottom trawling, a practice that has been likened to clear-cutting on the sea bottom.
President George W. Bush urged nations to end "destructive fishing practices, such as unregulated bottom trawling on the high seas" that jeopardize fish stocks and their habitats.
The announcement aligned the U.S. with several countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and Brazil, that are rallying for an interim moratorium on bottom trawling.
They pressed their point this week at the United Nations, where delegates met to negotiate a crucial resolution on the future of dragging. Observers say that if Canada refuses to support a moratorium along with Spain, Iceland and Japan, it's unlikely the UN will pass a tough resolution outlawing dragging.
"It really is extremely disappointing and sad and dangerous for the health of our oceans," Jennifer Lash of Living Oceans Society said from Sointula, B.C.
"Conservationists and other countries around the world are just in shock that Canada is taking such a horribly weak position when they are supposedly such a leader in this field."
Environmentalists were hoping a temporary moratorium would give countries time to develop management plans to protect marine resources.
They contend that Canada has balked at the measure because it allows bottom trawling in its own waters and doesn't want to face calls for a ban at home.
"I guess even we underestimated the hold of the dragger industry on the minister of fisheries," said Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.
"That he should line up with countries like Spain to oppose the moratorium disregards the views of scientists, most fishermen and the Canadian public."
Hearn, who was apparently travelling Friday and unavailable for comment, said he preferred to extend the reach of fisheries management organizations to unregulated waters and give them sweeping powers "to find and protect vulnerable habitat and other marine resources, and the teeth to deal harshly with those who break the rules."
But many of those organizations have been found to be ineffective in combating foreign overfishing and other illegal fisheries, and do little to penalize rogue vessels that catch dwindling species.
Hearn has insisted that will change with reforms aimed at beefing up the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, or NAFO, the regional body that manages fisheries beyond Canada's domestic waters.
Hearn, who conceded months ago that bottom trawling can damage ecosystems, said NAFO has already proposed that four seamounts in the Atlantic be off limits to any fishing activity until 2010.
But critics say the measures are meaningless if draggers are still permitted to sweep through the area, scooping up everything in their wake.
"For the Canadian government to have a dramatically weaker position than George Bush's position does not bear well for our international reputation," said Lash. "It's quite embarrassing."
click to view source website
Impacts/Environment, biodiversity and fish stocks