Mr. Speaker, the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has emerged as one of the real success stories in the Atlantic fishery.
This year it will generate more than $275 million in economic benefits in a few short weeks. Success presents a tough policy challenge for the minister of fisheries, who has to set the rules for managing this resource. He must ensure that (a) the snow crab stock is not overfished; (b) the number allowed to fish this resource can make a reasonable return; and (c) the economic benefits from this common property resource are shared equitably.
Determining how many fishermen can participate in the snow crab fishery and what the size of their individual quotas should be has proven to be among the thorniest aspects of reconciling these policy objectives. This year the minister has adopted a novel and ingenious approach for dealing with this difficult problem. He has allocated a portion of the total allowable catch of snow crab to a number of fishermen's associations and has challenged them to find a way to fish their allocation safely and responsibly and to share the benefits fairly among those who do not have regular snow crab licences.
The fishermen are rising to the challenge. They have formed companies and worked out harvesting and processing strategies to share the benefits of this temporary allocation.