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Corporatizing Redfish: Federal Government Gives Up on Coastal Communities

January 26, 2024

January 26, 2024

NL/NB/QC – Independent, owner-operator harvesters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are reeling from Minister Lebouthillier’s announcement this afternoon, stating that the inshore, coastal-based fleet will only be allocated less than 25% of Unit 1 Redfish, assumed to be, and a far cry from the 50% need to ensure financial solvency and economic sustainability for the region. Nearly 60% of the share will go to the corporate-owned offshore fleet in Nova Scotia which use factory-freezer draggers that will not land or process product in Canada.

“Today’s announcement was a clear signal that the Department has signed, sealed and delivered the abandonment of coastal communities and the tens of thousands of individuals who rely on sustainably managed fisheries,” says Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President.  “The Liberal government had an opportunity to provide long-term economic sustainability to thousands of fish harvesters and plant workers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and instead they’ve decided to buy corporate votes,” Pretty says.

“Over the last decade, inshore harvester organizations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have contributed hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work towards developing a sustainable redfish fishery for the inshore fleet. This transition is desperately needed for the shrimp fleet who have experienced drastic quota cuts in recent years and need to diversify to new species,” says Jason Spingle, FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer.

“A majority share for the inshore gulf fleet would have meant economic sustainability for the 100 or so owner-operator vessels that desperately need the transition from shrimp to redfish,” says Rendell Genge, fish harvester from Anchor Point, NL. “Now, the lion’s share is going to a handful of corporate owned vessels and our fleet will be left to go bankrupt,” Genge says.

“It’s alarming how blatantly this government has given up on Atlantic Canada and community-based fisheries. Inshore, owner-operator fisheries provide long-term economic sustainability for rural Canadian communities, and this decision today is contrary to how Canadian resources should be managed,” says Jean Lanteigne of Fédération régionale acadienne des pêcheurs professionnels (FRAPP).

“We are pleased that the Unit 1 redfish fishery has been commercialized by the Minister, but at the allocations announced today, the economics are not feasible for most enterprises to take part,” says Claudio Bernatchez of Association des capitaines propriétaires de la Gaspésie. “We are also pleased that there will be no moratorium placed on northern shrimp,” Bernatchez says.

Minister Lebouthillier did announce an extension of the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (AFF) to allow for continuation of important scientific work regarding gear retrofit. This funding is critical to ensure the most sustainable fishery possible with little impact on the Atlantic halibut fishery. However, at shares this low, there will be few vessels remaining to make the transition.

Rather than give these coastal communities a fighting chance, today’s announcement is taking resources away from those who need it most and giving it away to corporate entities. Our federal representatives like Seamus O’Regan and Gudie Hutchings need to answer for these decisions,” Pretty concludes.

58.69% – NS & QC offshore 

14.84% – Inshore mobile gear fleet under 65 fleet 

5.72% – Midshore mobile gear fleet 

10% for Estuary and Gulf of St Lawrence Fleet 

10% for Indigenous 

0.75% inshore fixed-gear bycatch 

25,000 tons quota, 2-year plan

3,060t for Gulf Shrimp (won’t go under moratorium)


Media Contacts:

Courtney Glode

FFAW-Unifor (Newfoundland and Labrador)


Claudio Bernatchez

Association des capitaines propriétaires de la Gaspésie

Jean Lanteigne
General Manager, FRAPP
506 336-1412

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