Ashfield issued a statement saying the policies — considered key to maintaining small fishing enterprises — would remain intact, providing a source of relief for fishermen across the region.
“I have been displeased — and quite frankly angered — by some of the inaccuracies that have surfaced over the past several months suggesting that the owner-operator and fleet separation policies would be eliminated," Ashfield said.
"Let me be absolutely clear: the fleet separation and owner operator policies in Atlantic Canada will remain intact."
Speculation about the policies started in January when the Conservative government released a discussion paper on the future of Canada's commercial fishing industry.
Even though the paper didn't mention the two policies, fishermen and opposition critics suggested changes were coming.
Fleet separation means that only those who fish can own a fishing licence, which means processing companies are prevented from buying up independent licences.
The owner-operator policy means the owner of the licence must operate the boat, another measure that has kept large corporations from dominating the industry.
P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Ron MacKinley said Ashfield's statement was good news.
"I am very pleased that minister Keith Ashfield has taken these changes off the table," MacKinley said in a news release.
"Many efforts were made by the Prince Edward Island Fishermen's Association and by our government to keep these policies in place and it's good for the fishery that there will be no change."
A unanimous resolution was passed in the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly last spring calling on the federal government to keep the policies in place to support the inshore fishery.
(Charlottetown Guardian)Suggest a correction