Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on this motion by the NDP member because there is indeed a fundamental problem in Canada, whether in western, eastern or northern Canada, when it comes to fisheries management.
Years ago, from 1922 to 1984 approximately, we benefited from devolution in the field of fisheries, and this was particularly true in Quebec. Then it stopped, and fisheries have done very poorly ever since. I would go so far as to say that the reason the fish are gone is because there is no more devolution. The fact of the matter is that the whole fisheries area has been terribly mismanaged.
All sorts of problems are being experienced. Two reports have been tabled in Parliament, but the federal government is still turning a deaf ear. In fact, the last report saw the chair of the committee resign and be replaced. Today, a new one is depicting a situation urgently requiring that the government act on this report. We are facing a crisis both on the west and the east coast. It is important that action be taken very soon, in the next few weeks or months.
We should support this report and make sure that the government acts on it. Perhaps it has finally become clear that, with respect to fisheries as well as many other areas, the jurisdiction granted to the federal government under the constitutional document of 1867 should have been granted to a more local authority instead, an authority that could properly manage fisheries within that region.
The situation of fisheries in western Canada, in the Pacific region, is not necessarily the same as in the Atlantic region, and the economic impact may not be the same either. We know how important salmon is to western Canada. Solutions must be found that are tailored to the situation over there. Viewed as a percentage of Quebec's overall economy, the fishery is not a key component. But, for the regions affected, the Gaspé, the Magdalen Islands, the entire North Shore, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the repercussions are serious.
There should be different solutions to this sort of problem in each of Canada's regions. For many years now, a blanket approach has been taken. Solutions have been imposed by the federal government, backed by technical and staff expertise that may be useful, but that does not include on-site visits to ensure that the decisions taken are advancing the industry.
The government has been forced to learn a great deal from the many errors made. Because there are no more fish in the oceans, the emphasis is on developing aquaculture. This is a promising and important sector, but it should not be developed purely for lack of anything better.
Turn-of-the-century pictures depicted Europeans, Quebeckers and Canadians fishing off Canada's shores. There were fish in abundance for people from throughout the world. Today, we are faced with critical situations that have nothing to do with natural cataclysms and everything to do with bad management.
I think the federal government has to approach this problem from a very different angle. It has already received some very important messages from Canadian parliamentarians. It is high time it listened. It has to be able to tell the inhabitants of these regions that they have a future, that there will be better management in the future. This would also give local authorities improved control.
When the future of one's community is at stake, one takes a very different approach than if one were doing a report on the fishery for another part of Canada. When one lives in Ottawa and does a study on the fishery in western Canada or in the maritimes, the implications are not the same as if one lived in the communities affected.
I therefore hope the federal government will listen and that this House will take action on the member's motion.