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Aquaculture act, Marine Protected Areas, and derelict vessels expected to be top of mandate
Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan says conservation is going to be a key priority in her new role as fisheries minister.
Jordan was sworn into cabinet on Wednesday. She moves from her previous role as rural economic development minister — a brand new cabinet post that was created in January during the shuffle prompted by former treasury board president Scott Brison’s departure. She’s the first female Nova Scotia MP to sit at the cabinet table.
“I loved my role as rural economic development minister because it was something that was very important to me as well but we also know in Nova Scotia one in six jobs is linked to the ocean so it's definitely going to be a priority for Nova Scotia and I’m happy to be that voice at the cabinet table,” she told SaltWire in an interview on Thursday.
No stranger to the sea
Jordan is no newbie to the fisheries file. Representing the South Shore-St. Margarets riding where many people make their living on the ocean, and having served as the chair of the House of Commons standing committee on fisheries and oceans, Jordan said, have all helped prepare her for the job.
“I come from a fishing community, I grew up in Riverport and my mom worked in the industry so it's something I've always known about,” Jordan told SaltWire.
“This is something I'm very passionate about [...] I’ve known the Nova Scotia industry for a while now but I'm really looking forward to looking at the rest of the country because of course obviously, we know east and west and north very different.”
“You have to have a sustainable fishery in order to continue to have the industry.” — Fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan
A big act to put together
While Jordan has yet to receive her official mandate letter, she said sustainability will one of her top areas of focus.
“You have to have a sustainable fishery in order to continue to have the industry,” she said,
“Without making sure that we look after the ocean we wouldn't have a fishery. Conservation will always be a priority because we want to make sure that we don't run into issues down the road where we have a collapse of a species like we did with the cod fishery 26 years ago.”
Other key priority areas Jordan expects to see in her mandate letter include the creation of Canada’s first aquaculture act, one of the Liberals’ election platform promises, as well as a continued focus on Marine Protected Areas and the government’s promise to protect 25 per cent of Canada’s ocean by 2025.
Moving the Mowat
Jordan also said she’s looking forward to continuing her work on derelict and abandoned vessels, a cause she has championed since first becoming elected. Jordan tabled a private member’s motion in 2016 calling for more education, improved ownership identification and government help to remove abandoned vessels, which passed unanimously. Her advocacy on the issue resulted in the removal of the MV Farley Mowat from the Shelburne Marine Terminal in June 2017 and contributed to the development of the Oceans Protection Plan, which includes comprehensive measures to address abandoned, derelict, and wrecked vessels.
In her new role, Jordan said she will have to work closely with other ministers with overlapping files such as environment, infrastructure, transport, and even procurement as the Coast Guard is in the process of purchasing a number of new vessels.
“I look forward to working with all Canadians who make their living from the water, from coast to coast to coast,” Jordan said.