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June 8, 2004
For immediate release

MacAdam Defends Future of Groundfishermen

Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry

Prince Edward Island Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry Minister Kevin MacAdam is defending the future of the province’s remaining groundfish dependent fleet in the face of federal cutbacks. The groundfishermen have been told by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that 2004 will be their last year for an allocation of the Gulf snow crab quota.

“It is completely unacceptable that Prince Edward Island groundfishermen are being told that this is the last year they will receive a snow crab allocation, while the access to resources such as snow crab and shrimp for their counterparts in the other Atlantic provinces and in Quebec remains in place,” said Mr. MacAdam. “This is a blatant effort to eliminate the last remaining groundfish dependent fleet in Prince Edward Island.”

Before the cod moratorium in 1992, there were 35 vessels in the Prince Edward Island groundfish fleet, and Island plants processed large volumes of the fleet’s landings. After 1992, a number of voluntary programs were put in place to downsize the fleet. Today, only eight vessels remain in the fleet, and they had been given a temporary allocation of snow crab beginning in 1995. The 2003 snow crab management plan had originally allocated a further quota to the fleet for the next three years.

In a letter to Wayne Anderson, president of the groundfish dependent fishermen’s association, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Geoff Regan suggested it is time for fishermen to explore other options, including further rationalization efforts.

“I met with Minister Regan in early May and received a commitment that DFO officials would hold discussions with representatives of the groundfish fishermen,” said Mr. MacAdam. “This meeting has not taken place, and I was therefore surprised to learn that Minister Regan had forwarded such a letter to the groundfish association.”

Mr. MacAdam said he will continue to press for an early resolution to the issue.

“I find it grossly unfair that Mr. Regan is telling the Prince Edward Island groundfish fleet to rationalize even further, while at the same time providing continued access to the resource to fishermen in other provinces,” said Mr. MacAdam. “With only eight vessels remaining in the fleet, how much further rationalization can occur without causing its total demise?”

Media Contact: Wayne MacKinnon
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