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Newfoundland shrimp sector mobilizes provincial support

Northern shrimp capture. (Photo Credit: FFAW)

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Thursday, March 05, 2015, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
Representatives from all parties of Newfoundland and Labrador stood united yesterday with inshore shrimp harvesters, fish plant workers, community leaders, and business owners at a Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) rally in Gander to seek better federal quota allocations.

Last year, in response to declining stock numbers, the Federal Government placed the overwhelming majority of quota cuts on small boat inshore harvesters, while making minimal reductions to the amount large boat offshore operators could catch.

“Families and communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador rely on the provincial shrimp sector for their well-being, and our government is committed to protecting their best interests. Both the small boat inshore fleet and the offshore fleet make vital contributions to the provincial economy, and that reality must be reflected in federal decisions about the amount of quota given to each. As the Federal Government prides itself on its record of promoting economic success, I expect it will work with stakeholders in our province to achieve the best possible outcome,” said Paul Davis, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Federal Government uses a “Last In, First Out” (LIFO) policy when making northern shrimp allocation decisions. The policy forces small boat harvesters to accept the majority of quota cuts because they entered this fishery after the offshore fleet. This approach is not used for any other fishery in Atlantic Canada.

“Our government has opposed the LIFO policy for years, as it disregards the principle of adjacency – that rural communities on the door step of the resource should benefit from it. This policy also places no importance on the fact that inshore harvesters have been part of the northern shrimp fishery for almost 20 years, have invested heavily in boats, equipment, and crews, and have created substantial economic activity in many communities. Having industry, communities, and all parties speaking with one voice will put us in the best position to achieve fair sharing of the resource in the future,” said Vaughn Granter, provincial Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

In April last year, an all-party committee was formed to emphasize the need for northern shrimp quota allocations that protected the resource, but also recognized the importance of both fleets that harvest it. The all-party committee was reconvened earlier this week.

“Our northern shrimp fishery is vital to communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and we are dedicated to protecting that resource. We must press upon the Federal Government the importance of strong fisheries management by eliminating LIFO and establishing a more equitable sharing arrangement that includes adjacency, which ensures those closest to the resource benefit from it,” stated Dwight Ball, Leader of the Official Opposition.

There are eight shrimp fishing areas off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, numbered zero to seven. The inshore small boat fleet is essentially only able to access areas six and seven, while the offshore can access all areas. Area seven will be closed after this year, making fair sharing of the resource even more important.

“The inshore sector is essential to our rural economy. I am happy and proud to join with colleagues from all parties to support the FFAW’s work for its members in demanding that allocations take into consideration the needs of workers and communities, and that adjacency be the primary principle of resource access,” said Lorraine Michael, Leader of the New Democratic Party.

In the coming weeks, the Federal Government will seek positions from industry stakeholders regarding the allocation of the northern shrimp resource. The all-party committee on federal shrimp allocations will provide the Provincial Government’s position. 

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