Hon. John C. Crosbie (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency):
Madam Speaker, this is a program of assistance in areas outside the northern cod area where the situation is quite complicated, where there is no moratorium on the fishery, where the allowable catch levels have had to be reduced because of the state of the stocks, where there is a mixed fishery, where for the most part fishermen do not fish just for groundfish but other species as well.
We are attempting to assist those who are dependent primarily on groundfish. The criteria are not that complicated. The fisherman who got 50 per cent of his landings of fish last year from groundfish stocks is eligible for assistance. We think about 2,000 fishermen will qualify for the assistance. That is about 5 per cent of the 44,000 active inshore fishermen in Atlantic Canada. There are a great many others receiving the northern cod assistance. There will be 5,000 to 5,500 plant workers who are working in plants that receive at least 25 per cent of their throughput in groundfish.
In addition we are reviewing the situation to see if more needs to be done. There is never enough time for fishermen or fisheries. We are reviewing the program to see if any more needs to be done or what more can be done to assist in this complicated situation.
Never in the history of Canada have such large programs of assistance been put in place for the fishermen of Atlantic Canada.