Ministerial Question Period: Elver Fishery

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: Minister Murray, in line with Recommendation 2 of the report titled Peace on the Water, in 2022 and 2023 Fisheries and Oceans Canada introduced an interim measure to reallocate some of the quota of baby eels, or elvers, from commercial licence holders to increase the participation of the Mi’kmaq in this fishery, which is critical to ensuring that the exercise of the constitutionally protected right does not remain contingent on the government’s ability to buy back licences.

In the interest of greater clarity and credibility, are you considering permanently reducing the number of commercial licences for lobster, elvers or other species in order to create greater access for First Nations who want to exercise their constitutionally protected rights and overcome dire economic and social conditions?

Ms. Murray: The decision on the elver fishery for this year has not concluded and been made public, so I can’t confirm any specific strategy.

What I will say is that our department’s work and my work is really guided by three key principles: One is further implementation of treaty rights; the second is the sustainability and conservation of all stocks; and third is the stable management of the fishery.

I am of the view that a willing buyer and a willing seller is an approach that’s good for reconciliation, and it respects the investments that are made by the quota holders that are being asked to reduce their share. Wherever possible, I’ll be going on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, and where that’s not possible, we have to find a solution in consultation with all parties involved.

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