OTTAWA -- The Green Party of Canada is expressing support today of NDP MP Ryan Cleary's efforts to examine both the commercial seal hunt and the management of the cod fishery. "I support his Private Member's Bill for hearings into the collapse of the cod fishery and I think examining the potential for a buyout of the sealers is a good idea," said Green Leader Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich - Gulf Islands.
The Green Party has criticized the federal government subsidization of the commercial seal hunt in the past, suggesting that sealing licenses be bought out and investments made in sustainable alternative livelihoods, including ecotourism.
"With multiple bans on seal product imports, the market is shrinking while fuel prices continue to rise. It may be more beneficial to provide enough compensation to help sealers get out of the business and into one that will be better in the longer term," said May. "This would also help the entire ecosystem to come back into balance," added May.
Cleary, MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl in Newfoundland, has called for examining an end to the commercial seal hunt, pointing out that the demand for seal products has declined precipitously. Last fall, he introduced a private member's bill to create a commission of inquiry into the collapse of the cod stocks.
"We should be learning from past mistakes with the cod and scrutinizing the current system of management, ensuring protection for the recovering stocks," said May.
A 2010 World Wildlife Fund report found that the Grand Banks population of cod has increased 69% since 2007, though the stock is still only at about 10% of what it was in the 1960s. The Greens have been encouraging restraint and caution to ensure the stock continues to be replenished, including decreased limits on by-catch and also specific plans for when those limits are near, including avoiding fishing in certain areas.
"Newfoundlanders have been failed by the federal government's mismanagement. This government now has a responsibility to carefully consider how to do better in the future for this province. A commission would be a good way to hear from the people who were most affected and hear their opinions and ideas as to how we can move forward," said May. "As always, I'm always happy to encourage cross-party cooperation and I fully support Mr. Cleary's initiative."