FISH-NL welcomes appointment of new federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans (even though he’s from B.C.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) congratulates British Columbia MP Jonathan Wilkinson’s appointment as Canada’s new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

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“It’s too bad the new minister isn’t from Newfoundland and Labrador, but then that’s probably best because our MPs are known as the ‘silent seven’ when it comes to the fishery,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. 

“A change in ministers is most definitely welcome considering former Minister Dominic LeBlanc was the worst minister of Fisheries and Oceans in living memory. FISH-NL’s door is wide open to Mr. Wilkinson, and a fresh start, and we’re looking forward to working with him.”

LeBlanc, who moves on to Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, had served as DFO Minister since 2016. 

In May, federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion launched an investigation into LeBlanc's decision to award a lucrative licence for the Arctic surf clam fishery to a group that has ties to his wife's family and the federal Liberal party.

As well, FISH-NL has described Ottawa’s failure to include the principles of adjacency and historical attachment in the reformed Fisheries Act — to ensure inshore harvesters have priority access to fish off their shores — as a grave injustice.

Similar to the principles of the Atlantic Accord with the offshore oil and gas industry, FISH-NL takes the stand that Newfoundland and Labrador must be the “principle beneficiary” of all fish resources adjacency to the province’s shores.

LeBlanc announced in July 2017 that first access to the growing redfish stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will be given to the Qalipu First Nation, to be caught and processed by west coast Newfoundland fish processor Bill Barry. That’s even though inshore harvesters have suffered devastating quota cuts in recent years to species such as northern shrimp. 

Then, last fall, Leblanc allowed offshore draggers back at the delicate south coast cod stock.

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