Nfld. & Labrador

Bottom-trawling ban not appropriate: Ottawa

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn says Canada will not follow other countries in supporting a ban on bottom-trawling in the deep seas.

Canada will not follow other countries in supporting a ban on bottom trawling in the deep seas, says Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Hearn said an all-out ban on draggers would not be practical.

U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this week instructed his government to oppose fishing practices— such as bottom trawling, also known as dragging— that "destroy the long-term natural productivity of fish stocks or habitats."

Hearn said Canada instead will continue to promote regional management authorities— including the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, which oversees dwindling stocks on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland— as more appropriate.

"Canada, like many other responsible fishing nations, does not see a blanket ban as the way forward," said Hearn, adding Canada's "practical, enforceable and fair" approach is preferable.

"What we do stand for is ensuring there is responsible fishing taking place on the high seas and in our own waters."

Environmentalists have long accused Ottawa of avoiding a ban of deep-sea trawling, as that might ultimately affect companies that fish within Canada's waters.

Countries oppose bottomtrawling

Bush's instructions brought the U.S. in line with other countries, including Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, which oppose bottom trawling.

The U.S. involvement coincided with debate this week at the United Nations General Assembly on destructive fisheries practices. The UN will continue debating the issuein November.

Hearn said Canada remains committed to protecting vulnerable species offshore and close to its coasts, and to developing more selective types of gear.

"While those on either extreme of the debate will not be pleased, these are the principles which we will defend strongly at the United Nations and on the world stage," Hearn said.