New trade treaties jeopardize fisheries regulation

OTTAWA – The proposed Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and other trade and investment treaties threaten the sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities, says a  new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Globalization, Trade Treaties and the Future of the Atlantic Canadian Fisheries describeshow new treaties could undermine the abilityof Canadians to pursue public policies thatcurb domination of the fisheries by largecorporations and help spread the benefits ofthe fishery more widely among independentfishers and coastal communities.

When properly regulated within sustainable ecological limits, international trade is vital to the economic well-being of the Atlantic Canadian fisheries. But the trade and investment treaties now under negotiation go far beyond eliminating tariffs.

“Just as the freezer trawlers that ply the world’s oceans today are far more extractive and destructive than earlier fishing vessels, so the latest trade and investment treaties are more intrusive than previous ones,” says the report’s author, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair.

Leaked documents reveal that the EU is pressuring Newfoundlandand Labradorand Quebecto abolish minimum processing requirements for fish. Minimum processing requirements provide provincial governments with critical leverage to maximize local benefits. Sinclair notes that “without such regulation, these decisions would be left to large fish processing companies to make with no consideration for any other factors than how it affects their corporate bottom line.”

While the CETA exemptions protecting federal regulatory authority over fisheries are fairly strong, there are serious shortcomings in the proposed reservations for provincial measures. Unless provincial governments insist on stronger protection, the report concludes, “they will be surrendering their future legislative and constitutional power through which the wealth generated by fish and other natural resources could contribute to the sustainable development of their province.”

Globalization, Trade Treaties and the Future of the Atlantic Canadian Fisheries is available onthe CCPA website:

For more information contact, Lesley Thompson, 902-471-6201