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Image: Submitted/Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Elver fishing debate continues in Ottawa

By Kevin Northup Apr 22, 2024 | 6:00 AM

The elver issue is a hot topic on Parliament Hill.

Opposition fisheries critic Rick Perkins made a motion at a recent committee meeting to have government open the lucrative elver fishery on May 1.

Government decided earlier this year to not issue elver licences due to concerns over violence on rivers.

Perkins told the committee that government has ‘screwed up’ the fishery.

“Poaching on rivers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is increasing. They keep closing the fishery, thinking it will take poachers off the river, when all that does is allow for free reign,” said Perkins.

He called minister Diane LeBouthillier’s decision to close the fishery ‘unfair’ to 1,100 legal harvesters.

Government says they’re working on new regulations that wouldn’t have been in place in time for this season.

Parliamentary secretary to the minister Mike Kelloway amended Perkins’ motion, instead calling on the acceleration of the regulations so that the 2025 elver season can open on time.

He says it’s a unique law-enforcement environment, with Indigenous treaty rights complicating attempts to stop unlicensed fishing.

DFO have made arrests and seized equipment this year, but Perkins says it’s not enough to curtail pouching and criminal activity.