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Fishing quota increase gets support from Maritimes

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 12/02) - The future of the Nunavut's fisheries is looking a little brighter these days.

Sustainable Development Minister Olayuk Akesuk returned from the Atlantic Council of Ministers in Halifax earlier this summer pleased with discussions on recommendations of a panel of Canadian fishery experts. "It was excellent. I had good support from my colleagues, the Atlantic fisheries ministers," said Akesuk.

Formed by the Department of Oceans and Fisheries, the Independent Panel on Access Criteria made recommendations earlier this year after examining regulations used to grant quota increases to new and established fisheries.

Focusing on the fishing industry on the Atlantic Coast, seven recommendations were included in the report, one of which dealt with Nunavut and the territory's right to better access to their adjacent fish resource.

According to the report, "No additional access should be granted to non-Nunavut interests in waters adjacent to Nunavut until the territory has achieved access to a major share of its adjacent fishery resources."

Nunavut currently has 27 per cent of the turbot allocation in Davis Strait and 14 per cent of the shrimp allocation in Davis Strait and Baffin Bay. Southern fishers hold the vast majority of quota percentages on both species.

"There was big support for the recommendation to increase the quota here in Nunavut before it goes to other jurisdictions," he said. "I think they understand what we're trying to do and that fishing is important to us."

Akesuk said Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault supports the recommendation. Final approval for the panel's recommendations falls to Thibault. He is expected to respond some time this fall.