Ottawa, ON — Clifford Small, Shadow Minister for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and Rick Perkins, Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, issued the following statement after the NDP-Liberal government voted against Bill C-251, the Conservation of Fish Stocks and Management of Pinnipeds Act:

“Bill C-251, a Private Member’s Bill introduced by MP Small, would have protected the biodiversity of our oceans and the future livelihoods of fishers and Indigenous people by introducing a framework to manage pinniped populations.

“It is incredibly disappointing to see Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament, including some who represent coastal communities, vote against the constituents they are here to represent and fight for. It is disheartening that amendments were offered to find common ground however the NDP-Liberal government chose partisan politics over collaboration.

“For thirty years, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has refused to do the science necessary to put in place a pinniped management program. Pinnipeds are responsible for 97 per cent of fish mortality, and Bill C-251 would have finally established a framework to do the science required to manage this great threat to not only our fishery but also the ecological balance of our marine life. Ignoring this issue will further decimate Canada’s fishing industry and put thousands out of work.

“In response to pressure placed on the Liberal government by Bill C-251, the Liberal Minister of Fisheries said she would ‘convene’ a meeting. What coastal communities want is leadership and action, not another meeting. When it comes to protecting our oceans and our commercial fisheries, this NDP-Liberal government has let down coastal communities. 

“Conservatives fully supported this bill and today’s disappointing vote makes it clear that we are the only party standing up for coastal communities, our fishers, and Indigenous people.

“To Canadians living in coastal communities that depend on a thriving fishing sector and a sustainable ocean – Conservatives stand with you and we will continue to fight for your livelihoods.”