April 28, 2005
Documents Reveal Illegal Activity in Fishery
OTTAWA— “Senior officials in the Department of Fisheries believe that poachers have vandalized the property of honest fishermen who refuse to quietly go along with their illegal activities,” said John Cummins, M.P. (Delta-Richmond East).
Internal Departmental documents received under the Access to Information Act reveal that the Regional Director General in Halifax was advised, on February 15, 2005 by the Area Director in Yarmouth, of vandalism directed against fishermen, who refused to turn a blind eye to the poaching:
“The main agenda item was the vandalism in the Meteghan area directed against fishers involved in last summers fishers’ protest against suspected poachers and buyers.
As reported earlier, two trucks were badly scratched and a cottage burnt. One truck was vandalized twice but on the second occasion the individual was caught and stated he had been hired to send a message to the fishers. I do not believe that he has fingered his boss.
The LFA 34 rep stated the level of illegal activity is continuing in the commercial season. A few commercial license holders are landing shorts and hauling other fishers gear. These few fishers are connected with some of last summer’s illegal fishers and their illegal buying operations.”
In Meteghan the Department failed in its responsibility to protect lobster from poachers and incredibly the fishermen from the poachers hired thugs.
The Department has been negligent on the West Coast too. In April the Williams Inquiry into the 2004 missing Fraser sockeye observed that (i) the Department of Fisheries was no longer a “credible fisheries management agency,” (ii) portions of the Fraser River were a “no go zone for DFO staff,” (iii) fishing was “no longer monitored in a meaningful way”; (iv) the Department was “not maintaining a credible enforcement presence and not properly enforcing the Fisheries Act”; and (v) “illegal activities” were “rampant in 2004 and … enforcement against these activities was lacking.”
The Department’s enforcement failures on the Fraser have been detailed in the Melvin Report, a report the Department wants to bury but the House of Commons Fisheries Committee has demanded the Department produce by April 29th.
“Cuts to the number of Fishery Officers are being made throughout the country. The summer fisheries on both the East and West Coast will be under increased threat with fewer Fishery Officers in the field available to undertake patrols,” Cummins warned.
Contact: John Cummins, M.P.
(613) 992-2957, (cell) (604) 970-0937, (604) 940-8040 or www.johncummins.ca