Mr. Mel Gass (Malpeque):
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to bring to the attention of the House the problem faced by Prince Edward Island fishermen in obtaining crab licences. The crab fishery was established off the coast of Prince Edward Island in the early 1970s, but over the years Island fishermen lost their right to hold licences for crab. The P.E.I. fishermen and the provincial Department of Fisheries have tried, in vain, to obtain crab licences from the federal Department of Fisheries.
One month ago the Department of Fisheries on Prince Edward Island sent a telex to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans asking whether Prince Edward Island could receive inshore licences for Zone 7 off the coast of eastern P.E.I. should it be closed to the offshore crab fishery. They have not received a reply from the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, nor have they received an acknowledgement of their telex.
On May 15 the federal Government announced its management plan for the offshore crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Under this plan it did close Zone 7 to the offshore crab fishery. P.E.I. fishermen are hoping that they will now be able to obtain inshore crab licences. It is certainly the right of Island fishermen to have the opportunity to fish crab, as the crab fishery was established on Prince Edward Island.
I urge the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to realize the frustrations the Island fishermen feel, as fishermen from other provinces fish crab within eyesight of the shores of P.E.I., have good catches, land them on P.E.I. docks, load them onto their trucks, and transport them to other provinces for processing. Mr. Speaker, I insist that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans award crab licences to Prince Edward Island fishermen.
Sub-subtopic: CRAB FISHING LICENCES SOUGHT FOR PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND FISHERMEN