Honourable senators, I wish to say how delighted I am with the recent announcement of Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, that a new turbot quota of 1,500 tonnes has been established in area OB off southeast Baffin Island, and that Nunavut fishers will receive almost all that increase, after allocations to Greenland and Nunavik according to the James Bay land claims agreement.

This decision respects provisions of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, which calls on government to recognize the principles of adjacency and economic dependence of communities in Nunavut on marine resources. These resources lie off the coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut. They will be fished by trawlers owned by the Baffin Fisheries Coalition and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, whose crew will be Inuit fishers, many of whom have received training in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia through the cooperation of those governments.

I want to give credit to those who contributed to this good news story for Nunavut, beginning with the Honourable Gail Shea and her department. I also know that our member of Parliament, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, was instrumental in encouraging the minister to make this welcome announcement in Iqaluit on November 9, aided by strong support from Nunavut Tunngavik, the Baffin Fisheries Coalition and the Government of Nunavut.

A vital impetus to this decision came from the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in their landmark report, Nunavut Marine Fisheries: Quotas and Harbours, adopted by this house on June 22 of this year. The committee travelled to Nunavut, listened attentively and acted on what they heard.

Their report contains a specific recommendation that new allocations in area OB be given to Nunavut interests, to bring Nunavut allocations up to comparable levels of access enjoyed by other coastal jurisdictions in the adjacent fisheries. It is a tribute to the solid work of this committee, ably chaired by Senator Rompkey, that this recommendation, and all but one of the committee’s other recommendations, have been accepted by the minister and the department.

Although I am still a new kid on the block, I continue to be impressed by the calibre of work and the effectiveness of Senate committees in setting aside partisan differences and working for the interests of the people we all serve. In Nunavut, I believe it is through the responsible development of Nunavut’s abundant natural resources that we will overcome the challenges of unemployment and social ills in our communities.

I thank the Government of Canada for acting on its Northern Strategy and the members of this house for their continued interest in the true north, strong and free, and their support for the orderly development of our abundant resources, with the full involvement of Nunavut residents.

I know that in public life, there are always new challenges and struggles, and Nunavut has many. However, it is important to pause and mark those moments where notable progress has been achieved due to hard work and good will. This is one of those moments and I am happy to share that good news with honourable senators today.

Statement – Nunavut Marine Resources