Canada and European Union Consider Global Conference on Overfishing
OTTAWA Canada and the European Union agreed recently to move beyond their long-running argument about fishing off the Atlantic Ocean Grand Banks to attack overfishing on a global basis.
Meeting top E.U. officials, Prime Minister Paul Martin proposed an international conference on overfishing that would include countries of the North Atlantic and China, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and Chile.
Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, president of the E.U. Council of Ministers, welcomed the idea.
"I said that's a very good idea because it's a global problem," Bot said at a news conference after the meeting. "We consider there are problems with respect to Spain, Portugal, etc. But there are also other countries like Japan and China, and in our opinion, if you really want to attack the problem, you should not isolate the problem and concentrate on one or two countries," Bot said.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said Canada and the European Union have reached a common understanding on fishing.
"We may have challenges in terms of the enforcement of some controls, but I think honestly that at this moment we have to enlarge (the debate), and this was Mr. Martin's suggestion this morning," Pettigrew said.
Canadian officials blame catches by foreign nations in part for the collapse of the groundfish fishery in 1992 and its subsequent failure to recover.
Canada has waged a battle against foreign overfishing, including an around-the-clock patrol of international waters outside its 320-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone.
Canadian fisheries officials have boarded more than 100 vessels this year, including two Portuguese ships cited for illegal fishing. In August, Canada had a spat with Denmark over shrimp quotas off the East Coast.
A month later the 16-member North Atlantic Fisheries Organization, the international body that manages the fishery, placed the species of redfish, white hake, and thorny skate under international regulations and quotas.
Canadian officials had said foreign vessels often claim to be fishing for those unregulated species as a cover while they fish for protected stocks.
Source: Associated Press