DFO fleet beefed up

CAMPBELL MORRISON
The Daily Gleaner
Thursday, March 22, 2001

OTTAWA. With another summer of conflict on the water emerging, Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal is adding muscle to his fleet in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The minister is announcing today that three Canadian Coast Guard vessels that were scheduled to be decommissioned will remain on active duty in the gulf. 

All 13-metre inshore vessels, the government is keeping CCGC Arcadia based in Richibucto, CCGC A.H. Chevarie based in Alberton, P.E.I., and CCGC Aquariel based in Cheticamp, N.S. 

The move is part of a general improvement of enforcement that the government has been pursuing in the past two years. 

In last year’s federal budget, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans boosted its enforcement budget by $41 million over three years. The money has converted 67 seasonal fisheries officers’ positions to full-time positions, and allowed more than 200 new fisheries officers to be hired and trained since 1998. 

The money also helped the department acquire new equipment to fight poaching, such as night vision gear, cameras and telephoto lenses. Since 1994, more than 100 vessels have been added to the fleet, and the number of detected violations has increased from about 5,500 in 1996 to more than 10,000 last year. 

The minister is also considering changes to the Fisheries Act so that violations of the fishing regulations may be prosecuted through administrative sanctions rather than using the more cumbersome court system. 

Last year, fisheries officers were embroiled in a standoff with native fishermen at Burnt Church, N.B., and the two sides appear headed for more conflict this year.