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MEDIA RELEASE: MP’s Misguided Comments on Oil and Gas Activity in Protected Areas Shuts Out Fish Harvesters

May 2, 2018

Recent comments made by Liberal Member of Parliament Nick Whalen show a clear bias towards the oil and gas industry and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of marine conservation. The comments followed public outcry over a decision to permit oil exploration in a conservation area closed to fishing.

“Coming from a representative of the federal government and a Member of Parliament who represents many fish harvesters, Nick Whalen’s comments are deeply troubling and absolutely unacceptable. Any closures intended to focus on marine conservation must restrict all other marine industrial activities, including oil and gas,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “The steps taken by the federal government to meet conservation targets have been borne unfairly and disproportionately by the fishing industry while the oil and gas sector gets a free pass.”

Mr. Whalen’s assertions that either fishing or protection efforts can simply be moved to other areas confirm a lack of understanding of both the fishing industry and marine habitats. Fishing takes place in certain areas because that is where the fish are. The same can be said for protection of coral and sponges, which only occur in specific habitats.

The Newfoundland and Labrador seafood industry was valued at $1.3 billion dollars and employed over 17,500 people in 2017. This is not insignificant to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and should not be treated as such by government.

“Rather than going out of their way to defend and accommodate the oil and gas industry, Mr. Whalen and his government should be standing up for the people of our province who depend on the valuable and sustainable fisheries resources off our shore,” concluded Sullivan.



For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications, 709-743-4445,