03/08/2012 07:53 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Change coming to fishery, federal minister says

Change is coming to the fishing industry, says the federal minister in charge of the portfolio.

Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said Wednesday the industry needs to get with the times.

“A true discussion about modernization means that we must have the courage to look at everything and hear all arguments,” Ashfield said.

“We simply can't make things better if this becomes an exercise in appeasing one segment of the fishery over another based on who makes the most noise.”

Ashfield says current regulations are “hamstringing” fishermen.

He says change is coming, and he wants to hear from everyone with a stake in the industry.

Recently, fishermen protested at DFO headquarters in St. John’s to express fears that Ottawa will cancel its fleet separation policy. That policy keeps big fishing companies from swallowing up smaller ones in the inshore fishery.

The fishermen complained they feel left out of ongoing DFO consultations. But the feds say they can make their opinions known through a new “online engagement tool” on the department’s website.

Meanwhile, the province has also called for all players to get onside in reforming the fishery.

"We need to sit down, park our agendas outside the door, do what's best for this industry,” said Premier Kathy Dunderdale.