Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup understands quite well where the government is headed concerning this issue. What fishers in the province and the province itself want is complete jurisdiction over fisheries. If we are to manage this, let us manage it entirely.
As things stand now, when cod are alive, they are under federal jurisdiction. As soon as they are taken out of the water, they are under provincial jurisdiction, because fish plants and fish plant standards are a provincial matter.
Several provinces guarantee fishing boat loans themselves. When cod die, there is a change in jurisdiction, but that does not solve any of the problems of fishers or the industry.
The Quebec government demands the devolution of all those powers if it is to manage something. It has to be in charge of licence delivery, administration and fish stock preservation. Provincial demands about this make a lot of sense. We all know that the cod resource migrates. The province of Quebec alone cannot be expected to manage biological research or the assessment of the cod biomass, because cod migrate.
We demanded first the right to manage the delivery of licences. How would the remaining responsibilities be shared? If the federal government does not know how to do it, it just needs to do proceed the same way NAFO does.
NAFO, or Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization includes a number of countries, and each one of them contributes to the assessment of stocks with the co-operation of biologists and commercial fishers. This information is then compiled by a secretariat. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea even stipulates that border countries have primary responsibility for preparing and providing these assessments. If border countries do not comply, any other member state of the convention can step in.
The hon. member from Newfoundland could confirm that, in many cases, Russia has provided the biological data on the halibut stock off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. So, as you can see, shared management systems do exist.
Have you ever heard of Canada having problems with Russia in terms of fish management? No. We have had problems with Spain, yes, because that country did not want to comply with what was behind our management philosophy.
What we have to do is apply whatever models we have. What would be the impact of managing our fish stock using an approach
similar to NAFO's model? Quebec's quota would be already set. Let us not kid ourselves, around 85 per cent of all the fish caught in the Gulf come under individual quotas. That does not leave much room for negotiation.
What else would happen? We could have a system where everything from beginning to end, from the harvesting to the dinner plate, from the fishers to the consumers, would come under one jurisdiction. The government could ensure resource allocation, namely defining fishing areas and classifying fish boats.
What people have to understand is that different types of fishing boats would be needed. Because of fish migration, I could not tell you what fishing boats would have to be used.
Everyone knows full well that when the fish comes in, trawlers cannot catch it off the coast of Gaspé, so trawl lines or gill nets have to be used. And then the fish heads back for the banks, at which time trawlers can get to work, but when they catch too much fish, there is less left for those who use trawl lines or gill nets. So, if we have a given amount of fish to catch in a given time in order for the fish plants to run a profit, then we would have to find some way to strike a balance.
The problem is, if we find a way to manage the system from beginning to end, once fishers land their catch, what do we do with it? The Bloc Quebecois once suggested-and nobody was against it but this is not possible under the current system-to provide some sort of buffer zone between fishers and processors. Why? Because our main problem is that our processing plants are overspecialized. A plant that used to produce salted and dried fish had to get fish measuring at least 20 inches, so when a fisher came in with a 16-inch fish, which is still legal, they were less interested.
They should have told him: "Unload everything at the same place and we will take care of market segmentation".
What is needed is a single jurisdiction and a will to assume responsibility instead of everybody passing the buck as is the case now, as my colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup pointed out.
The delegation of powers proposed in this bill does not seem very promising, since the federal government can choose anytime to opt out and say: "Get yourself out of the mess", as it did in 1984.