OTTAWA: Changes to the licencing system for inshore fishers were greeted favourably by the local Member of Parliament.

Last week the federal government announced that it adopted long-standing issues identified by group representing independent inshore commercial licence holders.

As of April 1, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will: ensure licence holders retain the benefits generated by fishing, and are the ones personally fishing that licence; support the owner-operator and Fleet Separation Policies by prohibiting certain types of corporations from holding licences in the inshore sector; and introduce eligibility criteria that will prevent the minister from issuing inshore licences to Independent Core licence holders that have transferred the use or control of their licence to a third party.

Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway told The Reporter this was an “important step forward” for the inshore fishery.

“For me, insuring that commercial licences and inshore community licences, the holders retain the benefit, generated by the fishing they do, is exceptionally important, for sure,” he said. “Supporting that owner-operator process prohibits certain types of corporations from holding licences in the inshore sector. So basically, the fundamental thing there is keeping community wealth in the community.”

To get to this point, the MP said the federal government held many discussions with inshore fishery groups. Over the past year, he said he has met with groups in every part of the riding, to discuss these and other issues, and he said they have been invaluable in educating him on many matters.

“I’ve been blessed over the past year to know all the fisher organizations in my riding and have gotten to know them well,” he stated. “It’s about investing in fishers in Cape Breton-Canso and in other ridings. It’s something that I believe whole-heartedly in because it puts the onus on us, and it respects the men and women who are out on the water making a living.”

When the provisions come into force, the federal government said Inshore Independent Core licence holders will be required to confirm that they are compliant by completing the new electronic Declaration of Inshore Regulations Compliance. This declaration is available via the National Online Licensing System (NOLS), they noted.

Also licence holders must maintain a registry of all crew members working aboard their vessel on every fishing trip, and this information must be maintained for a period of five years, Fisheries and Oceans said, noting that details of the information required will be outlined in commercial licence conditions.

In June 2019, Canada modernized the Fisheries Act.

In December 2020, Fisheries and Oceans Canada published amended regulations—amending the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985 and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations.