FISH-NL expects NDP to be tail that wags Liberal dog regarding inshore fishery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, May 17th, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the province’s New Democratic Party is positioned to force changes to the Liberal agenda, including $20 million targeted for seismic blasting, and sea-cage aquaculture off the south coast.

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“The NDP is poised to be a powerful tail within a minority government to wag the Liberal dog,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “We need that tail to follow through, and take a stand for the inshore fishery.”

In response to a FISH-NL questionnaire leading up to the May 16th election, NDP Leader Alison Coffin outlined specific issues regarding the inshore fishery that “they will champion in the future.”

Those issues include the need to move away from “environmentally destructive” sea-cage aquaculture “into the more sustainable land-based aquaculture, as the majority of other jurisdictions are doing.”

As well, Coffin wrote she’s “deeply concerned” about the oil and gas industry’s use of seismic, and its impact on our marine ecosystem in the search for more reserves.

The Dwight Ball government set aside $20 million this year for seismic testing in its April budget, which has yet to pass through the House of Assembly. Since 2011, the province has spent $179.4 million to gather seismic data, which is used to spur private interest in the offshore oil industry.

“FISH-NL is hopeful that the NDP will convince the Liberals to put that $20 million to better use,” said Cleary.

The Ball administration is a huge supporter/investor in Grieg NL’s $250-million Placentia Bay aquaculture project, including a salmon hatchery in Marystown and 11 at-sea cages. Inshore harvesters, however, are concerned about the potential negative environmental impact.

On the eve of the provincial election Liberal businessman Paul Antle warned that “hundreds of jobs” would be at stake if the sale of the Marystown shipyard doesn’t go through. Antle plans to turn the facility into an aquaculture hub.

“The Liberal government has had tunnel vision when it comes to fish farming as the future of the fishery — at the expense of the wild fisheries — and we expect the NDP to open the government’s eyes.”

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