ST. JOHN’S, NL –
The fishing industry is valued at over $ 1 billion annually to the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the province’s Seafood Industry Year in Review 2019 report.
However, as of last Friday, January 29, none of the parties calling for an election on February 13 had given details of their ideas on the fishing industry.
The Progressive Conservative Party was the first to unveil its platform.
PC party leader Ches Crosbie. – file
In a January 29 press release, PC chief Ches Crosbie said, “We will help fishermen and coastal communities rejuvenate their economies by working directly with industry representatives rather than government bureaucrats to develop policies that work for them.”
However, some of the ideas put forward by the PC Party would depend on Ottawa’s consent to amend federal regulations.
The Conservatives pushed the joint administration forward. It’s an idea that has been promoted by liberal and conservative prime ministers and governments of the past for decades and that has always not been implemented.
That doesn’t stop the Tories from hoping.
According to Crosbie, a PC government would work to convince Ottawa to agree to a common fisheries management system similar to the Atlantic Agreement that governs the oil and gas industry.
The party also said it will look at options to curb the waste of accidental bycatch, fish that is accidentally caught in pursuit of other species. According to the federal regulations of the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), these by-catches must be dumped.
The Conservatives also say they prefer fish over seals: “If culling is needed to reduce predators in order to save fish stocks, we will find a way to do it.”
Again, seal management, including decisions on seal hunting quotas, is determined by the DFO.
Once the seals are harvested, however, the province’s processing and business regulations come into play.
Crosbie said the pcs would work to ensure full use of the seal and help develop markets for everything from oil to leather to protein.
Under provincial law, the party says it will empower the Fish Processing Licensing Board to review foreign ownership and influence over the processing operations and make recommendations.
(Jan 29, 2021) – PC chief Ches Crosbie says joint fisheries management in Newfoundland and Labrador is essential …
Posted by PC Party of Newfoundland & Labrador on Friday Jan 29th 2021
The party also said there was potential for an expanded aquaculture industry to boost rural economies in Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to the 2019 Seafood Industry Review, aquaculture accounted for 12 percent of the $ 1.9 billion fishery value that year.
The PC Party says it will “advocate a green industry that does not work to the detriment of our existing wildlife and uses science and innovation to provide long-term opportunities.”
The party also said it will work to “streamline the existing legal framework while increasing transparency in the reporting and monitoring of our aquaculture industry”.
Ottawa is also involved in aquaculture, and the DFO is in the midst of a public consultation process to develop Canada’s first aquaculture law.
This consultation process ends on February 12th.
Liberal party leader and current Prime Minister Andrew Furey. – file
The liberal party focuses exclusively on aquaculture on its fishing platform presented on February 2nd.
“Our government will invest strategically in the provincial aquaculture industry to gain the competitive advantage it needs to succeed internationally,” Prime Minister Andrew Furey said in a press release. He noted that global demand for farmed fish is growing and this province is well positioned to capitalize on this market.
Like the PCs, the Liberals do not provide details or costs, just general statements about their vision for aquaculture.
They say a Furey government will:
- Work on a multi-species aquaculture strategy to fuel industry, market and job growth.
- Ensure that aquaculture jobs and business opportunities benefit all genders and indigenous entrepreneurs
- Use aquaculture as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and technology.
- The Liberals also said they would support investments to add value and volume to fish exports by exploring secondary processing opportunities.
“(We) will work with industry to identify opportunities for secondary or further processing of our existing exports and to support research and development of new processing activities for materials we currently consider to be waste or low-value by-products.” said the Liberals in their platform release.
The New Democratic Party announced its fishing ideas on its electoral platform, released on Wednesday 3rd February.
The party says it will “bring fishing into the 21st century”.
One of their promises is to pass laws prohibiting processors from entering into control arrangements in inshore fisheries, with severe penalties and fines for companies violating these rules. The question of control agreements is, however, already regulated in federal law by the amended Fisheries Act, which comes into force on April 1st.
The party also says it will ensure fairer fish price negotiations for harvesters. The fish prices are regulated by the province through the fish price adjustment committee.
According to the NDP, only one side – processors – has all the information when harvesters negotiate crop prices for their catches.
NDP leader Alison Coffin. – file
“The NL NDP believes that transparency in fish price negotiations is essential for fair labor relations. The right thing is to commit to collecting production information and prices from processors for all products processed in Newfoundland and Labrador, and making this information available to all parties in collective bargaining. “
The NDP also says it is time to change the fishing industry tariff law to allow the fish price-fixing panel to consider a second price recommendation during negotiations.
The party said it also supports aquaculture, but the industry needs to be developed in the right way.
“The NL NDP advocates a transition from open pen aquaculture to land-based,” it says on its platform.
The party also says that any new aquaculture venture will be required to ensure that the marine environment is fully protected and locally raised fish are processed locally.
The party also said there should be more help for young people and newcomers to become owners of fishing businesses.
The NDP said one way to do this would be to remove barriers to the loan guarantee program.
“Newfoundland and Labrador fishing is a renewable industry valued at a billion dollars a year. Yet it is often treated as an afterthought in politics, as the government is pursuing the latest bright idea rather than reviving the industry that has supported us for centuries, “the party explains.
“The NL NDP wants our fisheries to thrive and grow, continue to create jobs and support our coastal communities for years to come.”
Read the full platform of the NDP.
Elvis Loveless, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture for Newfoundland and Labrador – File-SaltWire
In a Tuesday morning Zoom call with reporters, Provincial Fisheries Minister Elvis Loveless answered questions about joint management and corporate control.
On the question of whether a joint fisheries management with Ottawa can be sought, Loveless said: “It has to be a very important discussion. We should be more concerned with the management and control of our fisheries. Joint management has been discussed for years, but we have to act. “
When it comes to corporate control and foreign ownership in the provincial fish processing industry, Loveless believes the Licensing Board process for fish processing is good. He added that the Liberals were open to ideas to adjust the mandate of this body.
Provincial approval of Royal Greenland’s proposal to buy out Quinlan Brothers operations earlier this year has been criticized by the Fodder and Allied Workers (FFAW) and fishermen.
They expressed concern about business concentration, foreign ownership and the potential for reduced bargaining power for fishermen.
According to Loveless, he had asked the Fish Processing Licensing Board to look into the issue of corporate concentration and the board was in the process of “putting together a (public) consultation process”.
Whether or not this process will continue will be decided after the election.
The provincial elections are certainly not completely and exclusively determined on matters relating to fisheries.
However, according to the province’s 2019 Seafood Industry Report, 16,000 people in 400 communities, many of them in rural political counties, depend on the industry for a living.
And the specific fishing ideas outlined by each party could be the determining factor when they cast their vote on February 13th.