Minister clarifies shrimp quota decisions

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I would like to address some of the points raised in a Telegram editorial on northern shrimp quotas, which appeared to have been drafted with little research into actual facts.

Let me be very clear: I fully understand the impact of this decision on coastal and rural communities.

Since 2008, I have had the good fortune to visit many Newfoundland and Labrador rural communities.

As a result I understand that the inshore fishery is both a way of life and the economic backbone of towns struggling with significant challenges.

That is why I am a strong supporter of an independent inshore fleet and I was proud to carry out the legacy of my good friend Loyola Hearn in implementing the policy on preserving the independence of the inshore Fishery in Atlantic Canada (PIIFCAF) earlier this year.

Quota decisions are never easy and science must be respected. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians understand that well, and the vast majority of the stakeholders I met with before making this decision agreed on the need for catch reductions.

Some facts do need to be clarified on the “last in first out” (LIFO) policy.

LIFO has been a part of this fishery since 1997. It was adopted by the Liberal government of the time, and endorsed by the Fish Food and Allied Worker’s Union (FFAW.)

New entrants received the vast majority of new access since that time under the understanding that should the resource decline the LIFO policy would be in effect.

When stocks increased, the inshore fleet received 90 per cent of the increase, with 10 per cent going to the offshore fleet.

As a result, even with the reductions, the inshore fleet today has a quota 22,000 tonnes more than in 1997 while the offshore fleet has a quota of only 2,000 tonnes more than in 1997.

I personally met with industry stakeholders, special allocation holders, the FFAW, processors, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and land-claims bodies to get their views and input prior to making a final decision.

In the end, we had to take a responsible and sustainable approach and I accepted, while difficult, that the terms agreed to previously by all parties needed to be respected.

Having been raised in a fishing community, I understand the impact this decline in the shrimp stock is having. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can be assured that moving forward I will continue to have an open dialogue with fishermen and all stakeholders as we adapt to change.

 

Gail Shea

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada, Allied Worker

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  • Virginia Waters
    April 14, 2014 - 13:25

    The following CBC article of April 3, 2009, might help shed a little more light on Shea's motivations. "The federal government is poised to double the size of a controversial northern shrimp quota for Prince Edward Island, the home province of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, sources say. A consortium of Prince Edward Island companies was given a temporary quota of 1,500 tonnes of northern shrimp in 1999, involving seafood harvested off the northern coast of Newfoundland. The move sparked outrage in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry because P.E.I. had no historic attachment to the northern shrimp fishery and the province lacked any shrimp harvesting or processing capacity." CBC The truth is that, since 1949, the Government of Canada has systematically taken the food out of the mouths of this province's fishermen and plant workers in order to benefit provinces and countries that had no claim, and should have no claim, on our fishery resources. Isn't it strange how our opposition members in the House of Commons, our provincial government, and even McCurdy's union can't bring themselves to call this for what it is ?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 14, 2014 - 08:18

    Canada is now a Party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which requires that "...proper conservation and management measures... be designed... as qualified (among other things) by ....the economic needs of coastal fishing communities …”............ I do not see where the Minister and her officials have taken into account "the economic needs of coastal fishing communities", when she has not consulted with the communities themselves (communities who are represented by their Municipal Councils). Is Canada's failure to take proper account of the economic needs of adjacent coastal communities a violation of international law?