February 10, 2005
Provincial government demonstrates
commitment to Harbour Breton
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is
continuing to help the community of Harbour Breton, as residents adjust to the
closure of the Fisheries Products International fish plant.
Premier Danny Williams hosted a meeting Wednesday afternoon in St. John’s with
senior provincial government officials and a delegation from Harbour Breton.
During the meeting, he committed to finding a solution to the problems in
Harbour Breton, including providing financial assistance. The Premier explained
that the government recognizes the circumstances facing Harbour Breton and that
a Ministerial Committee has been formed to work with the community.
Meeting participants included Trevor Taylor, Minister of Fisheries and
Aquaculture; Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural
Development; and Jack Byrne, Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.
Joining the ministers were Oliver Langdon, the MHA for Fortune Bay – Cape La
Hune; Don Stewart, Mayor of Harbour Breton; Earle McCurdy, president of the
Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union; Eric Day, president of the union
local; David Vardy, Chair of the Industrial Adjustment Services (IAS) Committee;
and other town and union representatives.
Premier Williams is encouraged by the discussions and pledged that the
provincial government would continue to help facilitate a positive outcome to a
“Harbour Breton and the Connaigre Peninsula are looking to government for
support, and we are doing what is within our limited means to help,” said the
premier. “We have said all along that we will stand up for rural Newfoundland
and Labrador. We will work with the company, with the union, with the community
and with the federal government to explore viable options. We can provide some
financial relief to help preserve the future of Harbour Breton. We are committed
to doing what we can to improve the quality of life in our province.”
Government is also mindful that the real issue behind the closure of the Harbour
Breton facility is that the groundfish stocks around Newfoundland and Labrador’s
coast have been decimated and have not recovered. Commercial fishing of northern
cod stocks, which are managed by the federal government, was closed 13 years
ago, and communities such as Harbour Breton are still adjusting to this reality.
The improper management of groundfish stocks is the fundamental reason that a
number of fish plants are facing a difficult future. The federal government must
continue to participate in this community adjustment.
“The provincial government has been extremely supportive of the Harbour Breton
community from the start. We’ve been providing funding for an engineering study,
for emergency assistance for workers whose Employment Insurance was expiring and
for initial meeting costs. Our staff have been involved with committees,
economic development support and training sessions. Minister Taylor went to
Harbour Breton in December, and now we’ve met with local officials in St.
John’s. We will continue to maintain open lines of communication and to look out
for the interests of Harbour Breton, the Connaigre Peninsula and rural
Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Minister Taylor is encouraged by the government’s financial support and is
mindful of the need for long-term planning. “I’m pleased that we continue to
demonstrate our commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” said the
minister. “We are doing what is within our capacity to address the inevitable
impact of a lack of raw material in the water. We face some significant
challenges because, as the Dunne Report pointed out, there are too many fish
plants to process too few fish. We need to continue to make strategic decisions
and find innovative solutions. We are going to carry on helping to find a
positive outcome not only in Harbour Breton, but in communities such as Fortune
Minister Taylor also commented on the issue of quotas: “The province will
support Harbour Breton in its efforts to acquire access to fish as part of its
overall business plan. It is too early to determine what this business case may
look like, but the community has asked for our support to acquire quotas of
various species. It is important for the community to come forward with a viable
proposal. This could include offshore fish, fish from the inshore or perhaps
aquaculture fish. We will assist them in this regard and provide whatever
support is required.”
Ken Morrissey, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-4304
Alex Marland, Fisheries and Aquaculture, (709) 729-3733,
2005 02 10