Harvesters Ask Government to Refuse Bids on Important Fishing Area

Harvesters Ask Government to Refuse Bids on Important Fishing Area

November 7, 2019

ST. JOHN’S, NL – At the November 6 deadline for bids on several offshore land parcels, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) announced that two bids were submitted for oil and gas exploration parcels on important fishing grounds. Fish harvesters are asking the provincial government to refuse these bids to protect the inshore fishery and the value it brings to the province.

ExxonMobil and Husky/Suncor submitted bids on two of the parcels in the Jeanne d’Arc region, better known as the Grand Banks. If these bids are accepted, these companies could be given exclusive rights to undertake seismic and other exploration activities directly on critical crab habitat and harvesters’ most productive fishing grounds. Earlier this week, fish harvesters submitted a symbolic bid to the C-NLOPB in an effort to send a message to the province that these grounds must be protected.

“Fish harvesters are baffled by the provincial government’s refusal to prioritize a renewable, sustainable fishery over oil and development. The provincial and federal government still have the opportunity to do the right thing to protect these prime crab fishing grounds by not accepting the bids in these critical areas,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.

“These crab fishing grounds are vital to the future of our enterprises and our coastal communities. Yet, government has consistently ignored our concerns in favour of further oil and gas development,” says FFAW-Unifor Executive Board member and Port de Grave harvester Nelson Bussey.

“Fish harvesters are not willing to give up more of our traditional, valuable fishing grounds to oil and gas development. We will do whatever it takes to protect these crab grounds and we call on the provincial government and our Members of Parliament to show their support for our industry by rejecting these bids,” says FFAW-Unifor Inshore Council member and St. John’s harvester Glen Winslow.

The fishery contributes $1.5 billion to the provincial economy annually and keeps hundreds of rural communities thriving, while oil and gas drilling, seismic activity and exclusionary zones push fish harvesters further away from their traditional fishing areas. The two parcels that have received bids could take millions of dollars in revenue away from the crab fishery each year and away from the rural communities who need it most.

“By continuing to ignore calls from fish harvesters to protect the fishery from the impacts of oil and gas development off our coast, the provincial government is sending a message that they don’t care about an industry that drives the economy of our coastal communities. We urge the Premier and Minister Coady to do the right thing; reject these bids and stand up for fish harvesters and rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” concluded Sullivan.

###

For media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney Glode

FFAW-Unifor Communications

[email protected]

709-743-4445

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Sign up for Unifor Local’s monthly newsletter and stay up to date with information from around the union and industry.