23 March 2005

Loyola Hearn - More blarney from Renews

Here's VOCM story on Loyola Hearn who asked the federal fisheries minister to stop foreign fishing vessel owners from paying bounties to their captains for fishing species under moratorium.

Here's the complete exchange from Hansard.

"Mr. Loyola Hearn (St. John's South—Mount Pearl, CPC): Mr. Speaker, officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently confirmed what we have been saying for years. Foreign fishing companies continue to break fishing regulations in the NAFO regulated zone. Skippers and crews are even rewarded for breaking the law by using illegal gear and catching species under moratoria.

Canada pays half the cost of operating NAFO and yet the government sits by and says absolutely nothing while abuses go on and on. He who pays the piper should call the tune.

When will the minister put his mouth where his money is?

Hon. Geoff Regan (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague ought to know that the Prime Minister of the government and I take this issue very seriously. We have fought hard on the issue of overfishing. In fact, our strategy is seeing results.

Both the Prime Minister and myself have raised it at the UN. Last year we had more than 240 inspections, an increase of some 50% over the previous year. We saw a drop of about 32% in the number of infractions last year. We are seeing results from our strategies.

It is a shame the member was muzzled and did not rise to vote in the House for the budget that contained money to fight overfishing."

Two things:

1. How exactly does a Canadian minister stop the illegal practices of foreign vessels? The feds will keep up the pressure, no doubt, but ultimately the ocean is a big place and it is damned hard to put a complete stop to some of these things.

2. Loyola Hearn is a grand-stander of the highest order. At other times recently he has complained about perfectly legitimate and legal practices (hiring vessels to fish quotas in Canadian waters) that went on while he was a provincial cabinet minister here in the 1980s.

Now he slams away at foreign overfishing as if Canadian-owned companies like FPI never engaged in any practices like highgrading, although former fisheries inspector Owen Myers says something very different. He also ignores the fact that when his team was last in power - in the 1980s - they didn't really do anything to curb overfishing domestically or internationally.

To make matters worse, the government of which Mr. Hearn was a part had a deliberate policy of encouraging as many people as possible to get into the fishery, thereby increasing the pressure to overfish the stocks.

None of that excuses the illegal practices involved in overfishing, but it does make it pretty clear that Loyola Hearn will say just about anything irrespective of the details or his own record.

BTW, Mr. Hearn is the member for St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

He retains a residence in Renews, two hours drive outside the riding.

In the last federal election, he refused to run against John Efford choosing instead the portion of his old riding where he figured he'd have an easier time getting re-elected. Instead he won by the narrowest of margins, at least for Loyola Hearn. And he displayed his bitterness and anger, rather than graciousness, on election night, despite winning the seat.

My guess is that Loyola is planning to run in Avalon next time out, anticipating that John Efford won't be running or will be weakened enough for Loyola to have a chance at winning the seat where he lives.