FISH-NL says rules around ice compensation mean few harvesters will qualify, calls on Ottawa to amend program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says emergency financial assistance announced recently by Ottawa for inshore harvesters kept ashore by severe ice conditions won’t end up helping many of them out.

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CRAB BOATS LEAVE TWILLINGATE HARBOUR IN MID-APRIL. SEVERE ICE CONDITIONS PREVENTED SMALLER INSHORE BOATS FROM LEAVING PORT FOR WEEKS. SOME PORTS ON THE NORTHEAST COAST AND LABRADOR HAVE YET TO OPEN. 

FISH-NL is calling on Ottawa to amend the $5-million program so that it’s retroactive to early April when fishing EI benefits ran out.

“This program was only put in place to make DFO look good because it’s not much help to us,” says Joseph Hynes, a fisherman from Port Saunders on the Great Northern Peninsula. “It’s just for show.”

On May 22nd, Ottawa announced the Ice Assistance Emergency Program in which harvesters from Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec whose fishing EI had run out, and who fish out of ports in ice-affected areas, would be eligible for a grant of up to $508 a week.

For many harvesters their fishing EI ran out on April 6th, but the program is not retroactive to then. The six-week program runs from May 5th to June 15th. Many harvesters began fishing in early or mid-May when the ice moved off, and will qualify for little, if any, financial assistance.

“The whole idea of the ice assistance was to help out harvesters who couldn’t get out on the water to earn a living,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “It seems Fisheries and Oceans either missed that point or said the hell with it.”

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