05/31/2012 01:12 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT

Fisheries minister wants clarification from feds on EI changes, fisheries cuts

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau says he wants clarification from Ottawa on cuts to marine science offices and changes to the Employment Insurance program.

Belliveau says his department is drafting a letter to his federal counterpart seeking more information on the loss of researchers specializing in fisheries science.

He says he wants to know if the cuts will weaken marine science and environmental assessments done in the province, which provide vital information to the fishing industry.

Belliveau also wants to know more about the effect of changes to the EI system and how those will play out in a region that relies heavily on the program.

The federal government announced it would cut the fisheries department's operational budget by $79.3 million over three years, involving a cut of about 400 people from its workforce.

Ottawa also announced broad changes to the EI program last week, which will require regular recipients to consider lower paying jobs that could require a commute of up to an hour.