Executive Council
Fisheries and Aquaculture
October 20, 2006

Governments Take Next Steps Toward
Fishing Industry Renewal in Newfoundland and Labrador

The fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador has sustained the province for hundreds of years, however, there is a clear recognition that the industry must become more flexible to compete internationally and sustain itself into the future. Today, the Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, announced the start of a comprehensive consultation process on the future of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. They also released a discussion paper that will guide consultations and give everyone in the industry an opportunity to provide input into the process going forward.

"The meeting with stakeholders in May was unlike anything that has previously taken place to address the challenges in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Premier Williams. "For the first time, governments and stakeholders achieved agreement on what these challenges are and recognized the need to work together in order to ensure the viability and sustainability of this province�s most critical industry. There was a clear consensus that the status quo is not acceptable. We took the momentum generated in that meeting and, together with stakeholders, we have developed a comprehensive discussion document that will form the basis for a far reaching consultation process on the future of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador."

The premier added that today�s announcement is a critical step in a process to revitalize the fishery, and it is indicative of his government�s commitment to the fishery and rural Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole. "We look forward to hearing the views of those most directly affected and to moving forward collectively with any necessary changes that are identified," added the Premier. "Of course, the solutions will not be easy, but we must lead the change or it will certainly lead us."

"One of the commitments made by Canada�s new government was to work collaboratively with provinces in the management of the fishery," said Minister Hearn. "It was clear from the Premier�s meeting in May that not only the provincial government, but the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, want to ensure their voices are heard when any decisions are made in Ottawa concerning the fishery. This process will ensure that opinions are heard, and give our two governments the chance to share information in return."

"Our fishery has the potential to be a strong economic driver for our rural regions. We all know that change is necessary; these consultations will help us decide the best options as we move forward," Minister Hearn concluded.

"Most people who catch, buy, sell or process fish in this province agree that this industry must change, and everyone in both levels of government who help manage the industry agree change is necessary. We must look at and learn from best practices around the world. It will take courage and foresight, and both governments have taken the initiative to go after these solutions," stated Minister Rideout. "This level of cooperation between the federal and provincial governments is unprecedented, and we will use this momentum to work with industry to find the most effective way to move forward."

The Premier and ministers acknowledged that the work completed by the Industry- government subcommittees that were established after May�s meeting has been tremendous. The work completed by these committees over the last several months has resulted in the discussion paper released today.

Consultations with fishers and plant workers will begin on October 30, 2006. Copies of the discussion paper are available online at www.nfl.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fir or by calling 1-866-266-6603. Comments are welcome in writing, by email or by calling the toll-free number.

Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews
Office of the Premier
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
709-729-3960, 351-1227
Steve Outhouse
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Lori Lee Oates
Director of Communications
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
709-729-3733, 690-8403
Jan Woodford
Regional Director of Communications
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fishing Industry Renewal Initiative

The Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador initiated the Fishing Industry Renewal Initiative following the Premier�s Meeting on the Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery which was held in St. John�s on May 24, 2006.

Over 40 participants attended the Premier�s meeting, representing industry sectors, community leaders, academics and aboriginal peoples. These participants reached consensus on most key challenges facing the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery and agreed on the need for policy renewal and industry restructuring.

Following the meeting, Premier Williams, Loyola Hearn, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Tom Rideout, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, agreed that decisive action through a collaborative and inclusive process was required to accomplish the change, and the Fishing Industry Renewal Initiative was born.

Under the guidance of an Industry-Government Steering Committee, four working committees were established to identify options for renewal in the areas of harvesting, processing, marketing, and technology and new opportunities. The committees held 17 meetings during June and July 2006 to discuss issues and options.

The steering committee and working committee process included representation from the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW); the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP); the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPNL); the Nunatsiavut Government; the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities; Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador; and both levels of government.

A progress report was presented to Premier Williams and ministers Hearn and Rideout on August 14, 2006 outlining areas of consensus including objectives and principles for industry renewal.

It was agreed then that the next step would be consultations with harvesters, processors and plant workers on the options identified by the working committees. Consultations will be completed by this fall, with completion of analysis and recommendations to Premier Williams and ministers Hearn and Rideout by year end.

2006 10 20                                   11:15 a.m.

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