Canada closes ports to Faroe Islands, Greenland
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, February 14, 2010 5:40PM EST
OTTAWA - Canada is closing its ports to fishing boats from the Faroe Islands and Greenland because of their refusal to accept international shrimp quotas, Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced Sunday.
The ban takes effect Monday.
"We have acted in good faith for several years to try to resolve this issue, to no avail," Shea said in a statement.
"It has become clear to Canada that attempts to come to a multilateral agreement ... are at an impasse."
The Danish territories have unilaterally set a quota of 3,101 tonnes, almost 10 times greater than the quota set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization for international waters about 400 kilometres east of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Shea said she remained open to talks and was prepared to meet with her ministerial counterparts.
She said Canada will continue to do whatever is necessary, within the law, to protect Canadian fishermen and the sustainability of the industry.
The minister said Canada expects all NAFO members to abide by existing international agreements, particularly conservation measures such as the quotas agreed to last September in Bergen, Norway.
"Failure to do so undermines the very foundations of international fisheries management and the integrity of NAFO," she said.
The Danish territories have registered formal objections with NAFO over their 334-tonne limit.
Liberal fisheries critic Gerry Byrne said Canada had closed its ports to both territories before and he couldn't understand why they were being reopened.
"There is no actual indication or evidence that suggested they had changed their behaviour or ever intended to change their behaviour," the Newfoundland MP said in an interview.
"The government can't cite one piece of evidence that supports the ... merit of lifting the ban."
A federal official said Canada's ports were re-opened as a sign of good faith, an incentive to find resolution to a long-standing problem.
As for Byrne's criticism, Shea suggested he was off the mark.
"Before NAFO reform, Gerry Byrne was supportive of the status quo," she said.
"That status quo included over-fishing, misreporting, high-grading and disregard for environmental responsibility. Our government led the charge to implement a management regime that is science-based and reflects the rule of law."