FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sept. 14th, 2017
The President of the Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) says the province’s Terms of Union with Canada must be reopened with regards to fisheries management, given the critical state of the industry 68 years into Confederation.
“The Terms must be revisited so that the principles of adjacency and historical attachment are ingrained in the Constitution,” says Ryan Cleary. “The fact that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans can dictate who has first access to Newfoundland and Labrador’s primary resource is wrong for the province, wrong for adjacent inshore harvesters and rural communities, and wrong for our future.”
Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced earlier this month a fourth fishing licence for Arctic surf clams on the Grand Banks, and off Nova Scotia. The minister has dictated that to be eligible for a surf clam licence applicants must be an Indigenous entity located in one of the four Atlantic provinces or Quebec.
That news follows an announcement by LeBlanc in July 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 fish processor Bill Barry.
“LeBlanc is oblivious to the desperate state of our fisheries, the monumental mismanagement of the resource, and the unprecedented struggle faced by our inshore harvesters,” says Cleary. “Ottawa is compensating indigenous peoples on the backs of Newfoundland and Labrador harvesters, and that’s just wrong.”
The province’s inshore harvesters must have first access to all adjacent fish resources, Cleary said, and, similar to the foundation of the Atlantic Accord with the offshore oil and gas industry, Newfoundland and Labrador must be “principle beneficiary” of all fish resources adjacent to our shores.
“Quebec fishermen can fish crab off the Great Northern Peninsula while Newfoundland fishermen cannot. Fish harvesters off the south coast must throw away dead halibut while foreigners and Maritimes can keep what they catch.”
Cleary plans to write the province’s MHAs and MPs, as well as the Premier and Prime Minister outlining his request.
“Sixty eight years after Confederation — and 25 years after the northern cod moratorium — the state of the Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries is a national shame, and an international disgrace,” he says. “There’s no moving forward without a fundamental change in fisheries management.”