Feds Handover Redfish Quota to Corporate Trawler Fleet and Abandon Canadian Communities
Federal government redfish allocations announced by Minister Diane Lebouthillier takes Canadian resources from Canadian communities and gives it to the corporate-owned trawler fleet.
February 5, 2024, ST. JOHN’S NL – FFAW-Unifor is sounding the alarm on federal mismanagement of fisheries resources with Minister Lebouthiller’s latest decision to allocate nearly 60 percent of the newly commercialized redfish fishery to the corporate trawler fleet. The Minister in question held a media scrum this morning where she doubled down on her decision and stated no help would be coming for the Gulf shrimp harvesters who desperately need an economically viable transition to the redfish fishery for continued survival.
“The Federal Liberal Government has given away nearly 60 percent of the Canadian redfish quota to the corporate trawler fleet rather than allocating it to owner-operator harvesters based in coastal communities. These small-scale fish harvesters and their communities rely on access to the marine resources off their doorsteps,” explains Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. “The Minister has very clearly failed in her responsibility under the federal Fisheries Act by not prioritizing social, economic and cultural factors as well as the preservation and promotion of the independence of independent license holders,” Pretty says.
“Who gets first crack at these fish? Here I must say that I have a clear bias for the inshore fisherman. Not because of some romantic regard, not because of his picture on the calendars, but because he cannot travel far after fish, because he depends on fishing for his income, because his community in turn depends on his fishery being protected.” Hon. Romeo LeBlanc, Liberal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans 1977 in a speech to the Rotary Club of St. John’s explaining his decision to ban offshore vessels from outside of the Gulf of St Lawrence from being allowed to fish inside of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Minister Lebouthillier’s decision to prioritize the offshore dragger fleet is contrary to historical documentation from the Department themselves, which removed the dragger fleet from the Gulf in 1976 due to conservation concerns. By prioritizing the offshore dragger fleet, the Minister is also compromising the conservation integrity of the species that has been under moratorium from 1995 until this year. Moreover, the inshore owner-operator fleet has undertaken extensive scientific work over the past several years to study gear modifications to significantly reduce by-catch and thereby ensure a very sustainable community-based fishery.
“This fight is far from over and we are certainly not laying down and moving on from this issue after the Minister’s media scrum today,” says FFAW-Unifor Secretary-Treasurer, Jason Spingle. “The decision on redfish is a direct threat on northern cod as well, and every single fish harvester, whether they’re in the Gulf or not, should be alarmed at this redfish allocation. We cannot, and we will not, allow our rightful fisheries to be corporatized to leave our communities with nothing,” Spingle says.
“It’s alarming when federal decision-makers are making decisions based on election votes rather than the mandate of their department. We hope the Minister will recognize the error of her ways and reflect on her mandate as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans,” concludes Pretty.
For media inquiries please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Director of Public Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.