Archived - Government Response to the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans' Report, Nunavut Fisheries: Quota Allocations and Benefits

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The Government of Canada would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for its (April) 2004 report entitled Nunavut Fisheries: Quota Allocations and Benefits. As the Committee was able to hear from a number of individuals, organizations, interested parties and stakeholders, it has gained a solid understanding of the complex issues that are faced with the fisheries in the waters adjacent to Nunavut. The Government has thoroughly considered the Report and given careful consideration to the recommendations that the Committee made in conclusion of the Report. The Government noted that Recommendations 2, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were not directed at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or the Government of Canada. As such, responses to these recommendations should come from the organizations to which they are directed. In order to provide a better context for its response, the Government would like to provide some important background on the Nunavut adjacent fisheries, as well as make some clarifying points on the key issues that appear in the Report, and in the recommendations.

In making decisions in any fishery, including those for the waters under discussion in this Report, DFO must take into account many factors, and balance a variety of considerations. Conservation and sustainable use of resources and habitat remains the primary fisheries management objective. Decisions related to the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA) and Zones I and II fisheries are made in a manner consistent with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA). While the Government retains ultimate responsibility for wildlife management, the NLCA establishes the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) as the main instrument of wildlife management and the main regulator of access to wildlife in the NSA. Consideration also is given to the Canada-Nunavut Memorandum of Understanding on Emerging Fisheries Development (August 2000), along with other considerations including adjacency, historic dependence, economic viability, and equity.

The initial interest of Nunavut fishers was inshore through the ice fishery for turbot. Over time, Nunavut fishers expanded their interests to the offshore turbot fishery that had been mainly developed by southern interest fishers. The total allocations to Nunavut interests have grown larger both in true value, and as a percentage share. As indicated in this Committee Report, Nunavut interests receive 100% of the Division 0A turbot quota. Overall, their allocation of key fisheries in adjacent waters (Davis Strait) has increased to substantial levels, close to 60% of turbot and 30% of shrimp.

The NLCA includes the consideration of balancing interests, when stating in Article 15.3.7 that the "Government recognizes the importance of the principles of adjacency and economic dependence of communities in the Nunavut Settlement Area on marine resources, and shall give special consideration to these factors when allocating commercial fishing licences within Zones I and II," and continuing on to say that "The principles will be applied in such a way as to promote a fair distribution of licences between the residents of the Nunavut Settlement Area and the other residents of Canada and in a manner consistent with Canada's interjurisdictional obligations." The article specifies that "adjacency means adjacent to or within a reasonable geographic distance of the zone in question." In making allocation decisions, DFO considers Nunavut interests, and also the interests of other fishers who developed these fisheries.

The Government of Canada would like to clarify some aspects of the recommendations in the Independent Panel on Access Criteria (IPAC) report. IPAC was asked to consider only access (the granting of new licences) as opposed to allocation (the amount or share a licence holder may harvest). IPAC recommended that "No additional access should be granted to non-Nunavut interests in waters adjacent to Nunavut until the Territory has achieved access to a major share of its adjacent fishery resources." In his response, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans did accept the IPAC recommendation as it pertains to new access. The Minister went on to say in this response that "fulfillment of this recommendation will not affect the current status of other participants in these fisheries." The acceptance of this recommendation as it pertains to new access was based on the IPAC definitions of access and allocation. The Minister has continued to uphold the decision, and there has been no increase in the number of non-Nunavut groundfish license holders, or shrimp license holders with access to Sub-area 0. DFO's Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review (AFPR) document, A Policy Framework for the Management of Fisheries on Canada's Atlantic Coast, reiterates the Government's policy on the fishery adjacent to Nunavut.

Fisheries allocations to Nunavut interests have been increasing over time. In the late 1990s, DFO's turbot fishing plan provided that 50% of any increase in the Sub-area 0 turbot quota go to Nunavut interests. Since then, there has been no increase in quota in Division 0B, however 100% of the increase in Division 0A has been allocated to Nunavut interests. As well, in terms of the allocation of quota for northern shrimp, 51% of the SFA-1 quota increase of 2003, and 67% of the quota increase for 2004 was allocated to Nunavut interests.

The Government appreciates the work the Committee did to produce this Report, and hopes that the responses provided will aid the Committee to understand how the Government, and DFO are working to respond to the concerns of Nunavut interests, and other stakeholders in these fisheries. The Minister and departmental officials look forward to answering questions the Committee may have related to this response during appearances before the Committee.

The responses below address those recommendations made to the Government of Canada, namely Recommendations 1, 3, 4, 5, and 10 - 14.

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans continue to assign 100% of the 0A exploratory turbot allocation to Nunavut.

Under the current Management Plan for Sub-area 0 turbot that is in place until the end of 2005, the entire Canadian Division 0A turbot quota is allocated to Nunavut interests. Nunavut interests have been allocated 100% of the Canadian 0A turbot quota for nearly a decade and more specifically for the past four years when this stock has been fished on a commercial basis with allocations to Nunavut as high as 4,400t in the last 2 years.

The Government of Canada remains committed to the Canada-Nunavut Memorandum of Understanding on Emerging Fisheries Development signed in 2000, in which both governments noted that the development of emerging species located in or adjacent to Nunavut should be used for the economic betterment of the people of Nunavut. Meeting the objectives of this Memorandum of Understanding will be an important factor in future allocation decisions of the Canadian 0A turbot quota.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, in planning the future Nunavut fishing industry, consider instituting small-vessel community fisheries. The Baffin Fisheries Coalition (BFC) should reconsider its fishery development strategy and plan for their development.

This recommendation is not directed at the Government of Canada. The Government would suggest that the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans seek the responses to this recommendation from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, respectively.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada, as represented by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, move to operationalize the Memorandum of Understanding on emerging fisheries it signed with the Government of Nunavut in August 2000 by committing adequate funds to a first-ever federal-territorial, cost-shared, fisheries development agreement. The agreement should include a federal government commitment to funding a multiyear research program, and an investment in at least two harbour developments in Nunavut.

DFO's Emerging Fisheries Policy and the Canada-Nunavut MOU on Emerging Fisheries Development of August 2000 both stress the need to work together in emerging fisheries development. Between 1999 and 2001, DFO, working together with the NWMB conducted scientific surveys in Division 0A to determine the stock size and fishing areas for turbot. This data was used by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Scientific Council to assess the stock. The Council then provided scientific advice, including any Total Allowable Catch (TAC) recommendations, directly to Canada. In 2004 another partnering between the NWMB, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), Government of Nunavut, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, BFC and DFO was struck to conduct two more scientific surveys, one of which surveyed an area never surveyed before, and another in an area surveyed previously in 1999, and in 2001.

DFO appreciates the need for science and committed $240,000 in 2004-05 in funding for scientific research in support of marine fisheries in Nunavut adjacent waters. The DFO Iqaluit Office has assumed the administrative responsibilities of exploratory fisheries in Nunavut adjacent waters and has worked closely with the Government of Nunavut and the NWMB in support of fisheries development in NAFO Sub-area 0.

Regarding harbour development in Nunavut, a DFO/Nunavut Harbours Working Group was created to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the needs, costs, implementation alternatives, possible funding sources and benefits of constructing harbours in 7 communities as requested by Nunavut.  Extensive consultations have been completed and a final report including recommendations is anticipated in spring 2005.

It is worth noting that the scale of the projects and amount of funding required could vary greatly depending on the sites that could be selected for development. Furthermore, all current DFO harbour funding is committed to the maintenance of existing DFO-owned fishing harbour infrastructure.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans provide Nunavut's communities with information in the form of charts indicating where Division 0A turbot were caught in the exploratory fishery in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and the amount of fish harvested at each location. Another important step in instituting community fisheries would be to conduct an inventory of community assets to determine fisheries-related infrastructure requirements. Communities might want to call on the experience of those involved in community-based fisheries in place elsewhere in Canada.

Information generated by DFO as a result of research and scientific surveys is usually made available to the public and can be obtained through NAFO and DFO libraries or from DFO offices. DFO will continue to make that information available to the public. Individual communities can conduct inventories of their fisheries-related infrastructure as they would deem necessary in their community planning.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that, if foreign vessels are required to fish 0A turbot, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans permit their use only if they are longliners harvesting on behalf of Inuit communities or companies designated by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated in adjacent waters. Additionally, the vessels should be crewed entirely by Canadians, at least half of whom should be Inuit; they should be required to land their catches at Canadian ports; and they should identify "Nunavut" on their product labels.

For several years, it has been the goal of DFO to fully Canadianize the Division 0A turbot fishery. In 2003, the Baffin Fisheries Coalition was permitted to use up to two foreign fixed gear vessels (longliners) to assist in the prosecution of the 0A turbot fishery, given that no appropriate Canadian fixed gear vessels were interested or available to participate in the fishery. When this permission was granted by the Minister, it was done so to meet requests from the NWMB and the BFC to experiment with fixed gear. There was no approval to use foreign vessels in 2004 and thus the BFC used only Canadian vessels in this fishery.

In order to achieve the goal of greater participation by Inuit in the offshore fishery, in 2004 the BFC requested federal funding for a training initiative for Nunavut's fishing industry. This initiative is geared towards assisting the Inuit of Nunavut to obtain maximum employment and economic benefits from the development of a Nunavut-based fishing industry. This training initiative would prepare Nunavummiut for participation in all facets of fisheries development. This would include increased participation and expanded roles on offshore vessels, with a longer term goal of a larger crew of Nunavummiut fishers aboard the BFC's own offshore vessel. Recent negotiations between Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and a consortium of Nunavut interests has successfully concluded with a three year contribution agreement to provide fisheries related training and skills development for Inuit. The Government of Canada's contribution through HRSDC will be $3.2 million.

While Canadian landing requirements were in place when foreign vessels had been used in the development of the Sub-area 0 turbot fishery, given that the BFC has met the Canadianization requirement, like other Canadian fishing companies, BFC may land its Sub-area 0 turbot harvests at its port of choice. It is not within the mandate of DFO to require specific labeling.

Recommendation 6

To ensure accountability and transparency, the Committee recommends that BFC members revise the BFC Memorandum of Understanding, and consider including the following elements:

  1. a restructured executive to better represent Inuit community interests;
  2. the requirement that decisions relating to tenders and the distribution of BFC funds be made by all BFC members; and
  3. the right of all BFC members to have access to all financial statements and documents relating to the Coalition's activities and operations, including documents pertaining to past tenders and contracts.

This recommendation is not directed at the Government of Canada. The Government would suggest that the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans seek the responses to this recommendation from the Baffin Fisheries Coalition.

Recommendation 7

If agreement on a fishing plan and changes or modifications to the BFC's Memorandum of Understanding cannot be achieved by 28 May 2004 (recommendation #6), the Committee recommends that the current MoU be extended for one year.

This recommendation is not directed at the Government of Canada. The Government would suggest that the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans seek the responses to this recommendation from the Baffin Fisheries Coalition.

Recommendation 8

To better inform everyone about its activities, the Committee recommends that the Baffin Fisheries Coalition publish an annual report; the report would include the BFC Memorandum of Understanding, an outline of the organization's structure, plans and activities, the number of Inuit employed, and audited income and financial statements. The report should be made publicly available in Inuktitut, English and French.

This recommendation is not directed at the Government of Canada. The Government would suggest that the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans seek the responses to this recommendation from the Baffin Fisheries Coalition.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Nunavut Fisheries Working Group (NFWG) not be involved in conducting annual reviews of exploratory licences (criterion #6 of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board's (NWMB) policy on commercial fish allocations) until the Group's authority is formally confirmed by the organizations that make up its membership. The Baffin Fisheries Coalition should not be a member of the NFWG, as this might pose a conflict of interest.

This recommendation is not directed at the Government of Canada. The Government would suggest that the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans seek the responses to this recommendation from the NFWG, and the NWMB.

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans continue its policy that no new access to 0B turbot be given to non-Nunavut interests until Nunavut has achieved a major share of that fishery, as recommended by the Independent Panel on Access Criteria and accepted by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in November 2002.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans accepted the Independent Panel On Access Criteria (IPAC) recommendation that no additional access be granted to non-Nunavut interests in waters adjacent to the new territory until Nunavut has achieved access to a major share of its adjacent fishery. The Minister has upheld this decision and there has been no increase in the number of non-Nunavut groundfish licence holders with access to the Sub-area 0 (Divisions 0A and 0B combined) turbot fishery.

With regards to allocation, in the late 1990s DFO's fishing plans provided that 50% of any increase in the Sub-area 0 turbot quota go to Nunavut interests. Since then, there has been no increase in quota in Division 0B, however 100% of the increase in Division 0A has been allocated to Nunavut interests. Nunavut interests currently receive close to 60% of the Canadian turbot quota in Sub-area 0.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that in Division 0B, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans make funding available to Nunavut for the purchase of one or more company quotas and/or groundfish licences in the competitive fishery.

While DFO has had and currently has specific programs to facilitate the retirement of commercial fishing licences, it does not have a program that would apply to retirement of groundfish licences in the 0B competitive fishery.

For example, while the Allocation Transfer Program (ATP), a component of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS), facilitates the retirement of commercial fishing licences and issuance of communal licences to eligible Aboriginal organizations without increasing pressure on the fisheries resource, the AFS does not apply where a Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (LCA) is in place. The AFS has a number of objectives, including providing a framework for the management of fishing by Aboriginal groups for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes and providing Aboriginal groups with opportunities to participate in management of their fisheries. The AFS was established, among other reasons, as a bridge to treaty and it is applicable where DFO manages the fishery and where a LCA has not already put a fisheries management regime in place. Among other matters, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement provides for a fisheries management regime and access to fisheries resources.

DFO does not have the financial capability to provide funding to assist Nunavut interests to increase their economic opportunities in the fishery.

However, DFO is working with other federal government departments to facilitate opportunities for Nunavut interests to enlarge their capacity to better utilize existing fishing opportunities, as for example through the HRSDC contribution agreement related to training and skills development explained in the response to recommendation 5.

Recommendation 12

The Committee recommends that exploratory fishing in Cumberland Sound be stepped up to determine whether a separate management zone should be established.

The research has already been conducted. In fact, NAFO Scientific Council has assessed the results of the DFO tagging study and recently agreed that turbot in Cumberland Sound can be managed separately and independently of the remaining turbot fishing areas.

In accordance with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), the NWMB is the main instrument of wildlife management in the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA). The NWMB has recently initiated the establishment of a separate Cumberland Sound Total Allowable Harvest for consideration by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans review the NWMB's allocation criteria for established and emerging/exploratory fisheries outside the Nunavut Settlement Area to ensure that they are consistent with the Department's own framework.

It is the Minister and not the NWMB who allocates established and emerging/exploratory fisheries outside of the NSA. That being said, under the Emerging Fisheries Policy, DFO will continue to foster and develop emerging fisheries in co-operation with Provinces and Territories. The policy notes that in undertaking new fisheries, DFO will work with appropriate Boards or other bodies established under Land Claims Agreements. As such, the Minister of Fisheries has traditionally asked for and has given serious consideration to the recommendations of the NWMB on the sub-allocation of Nunavut turbot quotas outside of the NSA.

Recommendation 14

The Committee recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans regularly monitor the economic and social benefits received by Inuit in Nunavut's fishing industry, and report to Parliament.

DFO collects data on landings and landed values related to marine commercial fisheries annually on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as Nunavut. In response to the lack of current socio-economic information for the marine fisheries on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is conducting a survey of costs and earnings covering the 2004 fishing season. This is the first survey of fleet viability conducted since 1988 and it is proposed that these surveys will be conducted on a three-year cyclical basis. Due to the limited amount of time available for planning what would constitute the first-ever such survey in Nunavut, the decision was made to include Nunavut's commercial fisheries in all future surveys of costs and earnings. This will allow for survey planning and development to address all issues appropriate to Nunavut's fisheries and allow for proper translation of the required survey instrument. Future surveys would cover only the socio-economics associated with Nunavut's primary fisheries; impacts related to the processing sector and other supporting industries would necessarily have to be provided by the Government of Nunavut. The results of the survey would be prepared and a report produced that will be widely available to the stakeholders and the public.