FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 9th, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is pleased that the federal government has finally come through with help for fish harvesters impacted by this year’s severe ice conditions.
“Better late than never,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, pointing out that Ottawa was formally asked for ice compensation by the provincial government in mid April. “It’s too bad that a fishing boat had to go down before the feds got the message that harvesters have been facing a desperate choice down here, as best described in a VOCM headline: ‘Starve on land or risk it all at sea.’”
Earlier this week, five boats became stuck in heavy ice near La Scie, causing one of the vessels, the Avalon Princess, to sink. All hands were rescued.
Ottawa has allocated up to $5 million to help harvesters impacted by ice conditions, described as the worst in decades along Newfoundland northeast coast. Some harvesters who are normally fishing in late March/early April have yet to head out to sea, while, for many, Employment Insurance benefits ran out weeks ago.
The $5 million will fall under the Ice Assistance Emergency Program for eligible applicants in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Quebec.
Harvesters who qualify will receive grant payments of up to $508 for up to six weeks. The Ice Assistance Emergency Program is not an extension of EI. Any payment received under the Ice Assistance Emergency Program cannot be used to establish a future EI claim. Application forms will be available starting June 23 from Service Canada offices or website.
Besides the ice compensation, earlier this week Ottawa also extended the crab season off the Great Northern Peninsula and southern Labrador (fishing zone 3K) by 15 days. As well, the feds are open to requests by harvesters who are iced in to temporarily lease other vessels to catch their quotas.