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Image: Submitted/Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Kelloway says comprehensive solutions needed for elver fishery

By Kevin Northup Feb 15, 2024 | 12:22 PM

As the federal government considers a shutdown of the 2024 elver fishery, they’re gathering feedback from the industry.

Violence and poaching has plagued the lucrative baby eel fishery in recent years.

Fisheries minister Diane Lebouthillier wrote to harvesters this week, noting she’ll make a final decision later this month once consultations are done.

Her Parliamentary Secretary, Cape Breton-Canso MP Mike Kelloway says closing the fishery last year was effective.

“When we cancelled the season last April, there was still illegal fishing happening. What we heard from DFO is that it was much less than it was. It was still too much, but much less than it was,” said Kelloway.

Government has been working on new regulations, but Kelloway says they won’t be ready in time for this season.

“We don’t want to come in with just one solution. We want to make sure it’s comprehensive and integrated. Unfortunately we’re not there yet because of the complications of laws and regulations.”

He says closing the season would be gut-wrenching for harvesters, but they have to keep everyone safe.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Committee for a Sustainable Eel Fishery said a closure would be premature.

They said DFO’s statement that new regulations need to be finalized first are false.

The group wants the feds to delay the season, arrest illegal harvesters, and open the season to licence holders.

They added that if Lebouthillier chooses to close the fishery, she is choosing to support transnational organized crime, and not hardworking Canadians who have fished elvers for over 30 years.

Kelloway says they have a tremendous amount of respect for the eel fishing group, and they’ve put initiatives on the table.

He says they will be part of the consultations.