As indicated by a recent published report, there are many concerns over the Conservative government’s upcoming free trade agreements, such as the Canada EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and how they will affect our Atlantic fisheries.
Some of the major concerns outlined in the paper are the potential elimination of minimum fish processing requirements and the protection of Canadian fishing licences, including the owner-operator and fleet separation policies.
While there very well may be benefits for the industry in these trade deals, such as the opening of markets and the removal of tariffs on our seafood products, we have significant concerns about what the government has put on the negotiating table that could negatively affect Canada’s inshore fisheries and Atlantic coastal communities. The Harper government must come clean on its secret negotiations.
The benefits of our Atlantic fisheries cannot be allowed to flow out of the hands of our local communities and fishers and into the hands of massive multi-national corporations who have Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield in their back pocket.
While the government has stated that it will keep policies such as fleet separation and owner-operator in place for now, there is no doubt that their previous disastrous communications and consultation approach with regard to the modernization of our inshore fishery created fear and uncertainty throughout Eastern Canada.
Industry protections go against the principles of free trade deals in the works such as CETA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. The Conservatives must not be allowed to use these trade agreements to slip the elimination of policies which preserve Atlantic Canadian jobs, benefits and independence through the back door.
fisheries and oceans critic
Liberal Party of Canada