Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his excellent question.
In light of the survey results released in the last few days showing a further decline in Atlantic cod stock biomass this information which the member is seeking is indeed critical.
With respect to gathering more information about the appropriate use of gear to conserve our cod stocks, I in conjunction with the Minister of Human Resources Development announced a pilot project just before Christmas.
We have hired and we have trained a number of fishermen who have been displaced from the fishery, who are currently carrying out a survey of their peers. Initially the pilot project, up to 70 of them, was to call upon the experience and knowledge of the fishermen themselves about gear, gear selectivity, and their experience in the Atlantic.
That pilot project is now being assessed. In the middle of February the Minister of Human Resources Development and I will meet and assess it fully. If the process seems worthwhile, and at this point it does, we may expand it beyond southwest Nova Scotia and Cape Breton and look at further projects in New Brunswick, P.E.I., Quebec, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
We think it is time to draw upon the knowledge, the experience, and the data base of the fishermen themselves in making these kinds of conservation decisions.