Random-Burin-St. George’s MP Judy Foote and federal Liberal Fisheries critic Lawrence MacAulay hosted a meeting of inshore fishers in Marystown Mar. 19.
They were joined by Avalon MP Scott Andrews to discuss federal issues that impact on the fishery.
The discussion centered mainly on the fear the owner/operator and Fleet Separation Policies will be eliminated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Mrs. Foote explained “It was clear fishers are concerned about measures being considered by the Conservative government in what the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans keeps referring to as modernizing the Atlantic fishery. The owner/operator and Fleet Separation Policies are foremost in the minds of area fishers.
“Simply put, the consensus is, doing away with this policy and you do away with the independent fisher.”
The MP suggested without the owner/operator and Fleet Separation Policies, the fear is the harvesting of all species that make up the inshore and mid-shore fisheries would be in the hands of the large processing companies.
Mrs. Foote claimed the fishers made it clear it is unlikely an owner/operator can survive in an industry where all aspects of it are controlled by a handful of large companies.
“Fisheries critic MP Lawrence MacAulay is certainly aware of the issue. The concerns of the fishers we met with in Marystown are the same concerns fishers have expressed to him in other parts of Atlantic Canada, as the fisheries critic.
“The Liberal party will continue to pressure the Harper government to be more respectful of fishers and take their concerns seriously. If the Harper government would do so, there is no way they could proceed with doing away with the owner/operator and Fleet Separation policies that have existed since 1979 knowing the negative impact it would have.”
Mrs. Foote indicated none of the fishers at the meeting, or those they represent, were invited to participate in the discussions the Conservative government say they held in their attempt to modernize the industry. The MP indicated the fishers at the meeting believed there would be 5,000 fishing enterprises impacted in Newfoundland and Labrador, all of which hire three or more fishers when they fish.
“If the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is serious about consulting those involved in the industry before proceeding to make changes in the name of modernizing the fishery, he would not only consult but listen to the fishers who will be impacted especially if the owner/operator and Fleet Separation Policies are eliminated.
“If that doesn’t happen he will be remembered as the minister who was responsible for the end of the traditional fishery in Atlantic Canada.”