FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, Sept. 6th, 2018
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to once again hold direct consultations with inshore harvesters.
“DFO is to be commended for holding outreach meetings last winter for the first time in a generation,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, “but the precedent has been set, and the department must hold them every year to keep its finger on the pulse of inshore harvesters.”
DFO held a series of 20 outreach meetings around the province in the fall/early winter of 2017/2018 to hear directly from harvesters. The consultations were called following years of complaints that the FFAW-Unifor is no longer the voice of harvesters, which, as it turned out, was the most common theme at the outreach meetings.
Contacted this week, a DFO official in St. John’s wouldn’t say whether direct consultations will be held again this coming fall/winter. The last meetings were hosted by DFO’s John Lubar, DFO’s director for the Southern, Western and Straits Area, and Ron Burton, director for eastern Newfoundland.
Both Lubar and Burton told harvesters at the meetings that their concerns would be outlined in a report that would be released publicly following the consultations, which wrapped up in February, but a report has yet to be produced.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans released a report in June on fishing length and licensing policies, with five of the eight recommendations calling on DFO’s NL region to hold more direct consultations with harvesters/enterprise owners.
DFO’s Maritime Region announced earlier this summer a series of public meetings in Nova Scotia about proposed changes to the federal Fisheries Act, although no such meetings will be held in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“That’s not good enough,” said Cleary. “DFO officials are well aware that the FFAW-Unifor is no longer the voice of ‘industry,’ as they put it, and to ignore that fact is to turn their backs on inshore harvesters — which is unacceptable.”