Fisheries and Aquaculture
May 4, 2007
Province Will Lose
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is extremely disappointed with the decision made by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn, not to transfer the Fishery Products International (FPI) Limited groundfish quotas to the Provincial Government. As a result of this decision, the province will lose many benefits which would come from the conclusion of a deal between FPI, OCI and Highliner, primarily related to the opportunity to provide more stability for the fish plants involved and communities that depend on them.
"Our government has said from the beginning that transferring FPI�s groundfish quotas to the province would be a precondition for the approval of the sale of FPI," said the Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. "There have been multiple communications with Minister Hearn and his officials on this matter, dating back to November of 2006."
"This deal could finally provide the Provincial Government with an opportunity to bring stability to a company that has been in turmoil for some years now and ensure that it will finally provide predictable employment opportunities for the many rural communities that are depending on the plants currently owned by FPI," said the minister. "As well, if the deal proceeds it could provide significant protection for the quotas over the long term."
At present, enterprise allocation licence owners are not limited in where they land their catch. FPI remains free to land and process their catch anywhere. Had the federal government agreed to transfer the quotas to the province, this would not have been the case. The catch would have to be landed in the province. Furthermore, the arrangement would have been enduring.
There is significant federal precedent for transferring quotas to provincial jurisdictions, including this province and others. The list of precedents for transferring quotas includes the Scandinavian long liner fleet in Newfoundland, the PEI shrimp allocation, Icewater Seafoods in Newfoundland, and aboriginal allocations in Nunavut, Quebec and Conne River in this province. As well, the federal government transferred quotas to the government run Crown corporation FPI at the time of its initial creation.
"What Minister Hearn is offering at this time does not provide for an enduring arrangement that the groundfish will have to be landed in the province," said Minister Rideout. "The protection that the federal government is currently offering could be taken away with the stroke of a pen. That simply isn�t good enough for FPI employees if we amend the FPI Act and allow this sale to proceed. The province�s proposed participation in a 25-year-old, highly structured management regime, means that it would be all but impossible for a present or future minister to remove our right of access, without dismantling the entire enterprise allocation regime."
"We simply must have more protection for the communities and workers involved. In addition, the federal offer does not get people back to work. In fact, it likely means that a collective agreement for FPI workers is even more elusive now," said the minister.
Communities with FPI plants that could potentially be impacted by the sale of the company include Marystown, South Dildo, Port au Choix, Port Union, Triton, Bonavista and Burin.
"Historically, there has been a lack of commitment on the part of the federal government to allocate to people in adjacent areas. Furthermore, adjacency and historical dependency are not even addressed in the Fisheries Act that is before the House of Commons at present," said Minister Rideout. "Therefore, it is not acceptable that the requirement to land and process the quotas here will be removable with the stroke of a pen of a federal minister."
"If the federal government co-operates and this deal proceeds, it could increase the security of access to adjacent seafood resources," said Minister Rideout. "Unfortunately, the federal government seems unwilling to provide opportunities to this province to be masters of our own destiny."
2007 05 04 5:10 p.m.
All material copyright the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. No unauthorized copying or redeployment permitted. The Government assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of any material deployed on an unauthorized server.