FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Thursday, May 11th, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is pleased that the Dwight Ball administration is onside with a proposal for flexibility in this year’s harvesting rules, including buddying up to help harvesters cut down on expenses.
“Governments can’t magically produce more fish, so they must do all they can to make it easier for harvesters to get through the current crisis and keep their heads above water,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, following an hour and a half meeting with the Premier and Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker. “The premier gets that.”
The decision on flexibility is ultimately Ottawa’s, but the Ball administration agrees with the measure, whereas the FFAW does not.
Issues during the meeting included opening the provincial gate to outside buyers, the need for an independent assessment of federal fisheries management/science, inshore access to scallops on the St. Pierre Bank, and NL access to crab-fishing grounds immediately off the Great Northern Peninsula where Quebec boats currently have primary access.
Indeed, the principles of adjacency and historical attachment — essentially giving inshore harvesters first access to resources off our shores — was an overriding theme of the meeting.
Yet another issue was the inconsistency of fisheries policy in NL verses the Maritimes (boat leases, for example), and the urgency of a vote by the Labour Relations Board to decide who will represent inshore harvesters — FISH-NL or the FFAW. Harvesters around the province complain of retaliation from the FFAW for supporting FISH-NL.