Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters' Federation he plans to make amendments to the Fisheries Act that will "enshrine the owner-operator and fleet separation law."

"This would mean that the minister would be able to create regulation under law to prohibit a fisherman from using a licence to enter a controlling agreement or other arrangements that are contrary to social and economic objectives that are beyond the spirit and intent of the owner-operator and fleet separation policies," LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc made the announcement during his keynote address at the annual Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters' Federation meeting held in Chester, N.S., Tuesday.

Kirby Elson mention

During his speech, LeBlanc talked about court cases challenging the protection of independence and economic viability of the inshore and midshore fleets using the licensing policy and specifically mentioned the Kirby Elson case.

Elson, a fisherman from the Labrador community of Cartwright, N.L., was stripped by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans of his snow crab licence in 2015 when he refused to exit a controlling agreement with fish processor Quinlan Brothers and a related company.

Backed by the processing industry and a high-powered legal team, Elson filed for a judicial review of the 2015 decision by the federal fisheries minister to take away his commercial fishing licence, saying without the arrangement he couldn't afford to go fishing.

'Long-term economic prosperity'

"Our victory at trial in this case reaffirms the authority of the fisheries minister to enforce the rules in place to ensure that the wealth and value flowing from our fisheries remain in their local communities," said LeBlanc.

Although DFO won, Elson plans to appeal the federal court decision. No date has been set yet to appeal the decision.

LeBlanc said Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada's Atlantic Fisheries (PIIFCAF) policies help "generate stable and long-term economic prosperity in Atlantic Canada and they're helping the middle class thrive."