March 2, 1995
Foreign Affairs Minister André OUELLET today urged the European Union (EU) to rescind its decision to object to the allocation by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) of a 1995 Greenland Halibut quota of 3.400 t to the European Union. The Minister called on the EU not to proceed with its March 1st decision to establish a unilateral quota of 18.630 t for the EU for 1995 and enjoined the EU to abide by the NAFO conservation decisions. Mr. Ouellet renewed Canada's call on the EU to agree to a meeting of senior officials from Canada and the EU to resolve this problem.
Canada considers it enviromentally unsustainable for the EU to get unilaterally its own halibut quota, thereby disregarding that other NAFO membrs, including Canada, will fish their legitimate NAFO allocations. When added to other NAFO quotas, the EU self-allocated quota could result in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) set by NAFO for conservation purposes being overfished by more than 50 per cent, thereby seriously damaging the stock.
Last September for the first time, NAFO decided to establish a TAC for Greenland Halibut. The TAC for 1995 is 27.000 t, compared to actual catches of 60.000 t in 1994, primarily by the EU. This limits was agreed in response to reccomandations of the NAFO Scientific Council which called for strong and cautionary measures to protect the Greenland Halibut resource. Since 1989, the Scientific Council, which consists of representatives of all NAFO members, including the EU, has warned explicity about the need to reduce catches of this stock. Despite these warnings, EU catches increased from about 1.000 t in the late 1980s to approximately 45.000 t in each of the lst three years.
Minister Ouellet concluded: "Unless the EU respects the NAFO quota, Canada will have no alternative but to act".