June 14, 1993 (34th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Francis G. LeBlanc


Mr. LeBlanc (Cape Breton Highlands -Canso):

you, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to just pick up from the discussion of my learned colleague from Gander-Grand Falls on the points that he was making in his speech. I have heard my colleague on numerous occasions speak in this House and outside of this House about the problems of overfishing both outside and inside of our 200-mile zone. He has a veiy interesting, entertaining and colourful way of making what is a very serious and very important point.
I think the point bears directly on this issue that has been raised by my colleague from Bonavista-Trinity-Conception who did a great deal of research prior to putting forward this motion on the whole issue, legal, ecological and fisheries related, to justify our taking this step of extending functional jurisdiction in these areas.
There is no question that the research has been done. We have been patient as a country for far too long with the kind of pillaging which is taking place on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks of Canada. It is time finally that this government or the successor government act on
this very important issue. It may well be too late, but it is certainly time.
I would like in the short time that I have available to raise an issue which is central to this whole debate. The issue is the distinction between what has traditionally been called utilized and under-utilized species of fish which are considered to be in excess of the needs or the capacity of Canadians to catch them.
When the 200-mile limit was declared by Canada in 1977 one of the ways in which our government at the time proceeded in order to obtain compliance from other countries and co-operation from them in not overfishing our stocks was to make it possible for these countries to catch fish which were considered to be surplus to Canadian needs. They were fish which Canadian technology could not catch at the time or which Canadian consumers could not consume, so other countries were allowed under permits by Canada to come inside our zone and fish these so-called surplus species. In addition we were hoping at the time and I think the hope was well placed that other countries would behave and co-operate outside of the 200-mile zone in the areas where there are fishing activities, principally on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks.
As we have seen, and it is particularly sad to say, since this government took office there has obviously been no co-operation by those vessels fishing outside our zone. The result is that the fish stocks in those areas have been decimated.
It raises a very profound and fundamental question. The question I want to bring to the floor of the House in the very brief time I have available is the distinction between under-utilized and utilized species.
I think we as a government and as a country have to begin to question the validity of that distinction because we are now learning that really all fish in the water are related in an ecological sense.
To declare, for example, that capelin is an under-utilized species and therefore can be fished by a foreign government is no longer relevant because capelin is a food fish for other fish which we use. Other fish in the
June 14, 1993

Government Orders
water live in the environment with the fish that are our traditional species.

Subtopic:   FISHERIES
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