St. John’s – A report released this week by the federal auditor general has confirmed what many in the fishing industry have been saying for years; that significant cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada have had a major impact on the management of Canada’s fish resources.
“Strong federal investments in fisheries science and sustainable management are critical to the future of the fishery and to the people and communities that rely on it,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor). “Cuts in funding over the past decade have resulted in gaps in science and a lack of harvester input in key management decisions.”
The review was conducted by the federal commissioner for the environment and sustainable development. Representatives from FFAW-Unifor met with federal commissioner staff earlier this year to provide input into the audit. Two FFAW-Unifor concerns – the impact of DFO budget cuts and the 2013 change to third party observer programs – were highlighted in the report.
FFAW-Unifor also stressed to the federal commissioner the need for a larger DFO presence in the day-to-day management of the fishery. Unfortunately, this lack of presence was not addressed by the federal commissioner.
“DFO is no longer heavily involved in meeting with harvesters,” Sullivan noted. “DFO needs to be on the ground, communicating with harvesters.”
“Overall, the findings of this report reinforce the need for increased investment to rebuild the capacity of DFO,” continued Sullivan. “The federal government must take swift action to right the wrongs of a decade of Conservative mismanagement of the fishery.”
The full report conducted by the auditor general can be found here.