POLITICS

Cleary calls out DFO, calls for fishery inquiry

09/12/2011 03:12 EDT | Updated 11/12/2011 05:12 EST

New Democrat MP Ryan Cleary accused the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's of mismanagement Monday while calling for an inquiry into the province's fishery.

The St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP first made the promise while campaigning in the lead-up to the spring's federal election.

At a news conference Monday, Cleary said he will introduce a private member's bill this fall calling for a commission of inquiry into the collapse of the cod stocks.

"Our future is threatened," Cleary told reporters.

"It is threatened by a lack of vision. It is threatened by the absence of a rebuilding plan. It is threatened by apathy in all quarters."

In July, Cleary's name was drawn for second place in a lottery for private members' bills.

The commission would investigate the effectiveness of the current management system and the state of fisheries science. It would also investigate fisheries enforcement and quotas.

Pointing to the need for an inquiry, Cleary said he has recently had off-the-record conversations with employees from DFO.

He said he was told the science branch of the department has been reduced to a skeleton crew and that morale is horrible.

Cleary also accused DFO management of making decisions based on politics rather than on science.

"The time has come to pull the fishery out of perpetual crisis and create a new economic model that works," said Cleary, who added that he has support from both federal and provincial levels of the NDP.

Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said in a statement Monday there will be no inquiry into the fishery.

The statement said the department is focused on the province's economic future but "given [its] ongoing efforts, a judicial inquiry represents a costly and duplicative exercise into decisions made over 20 years ago."

Canada called a moratorium on Northern cod, which had been the largest fishery off Newfoundland's east coast, in 1992.