Federal, provincial Liberal governments shaft Nova Scotian shrimp industry
SYDNEY, NS – Cape Breton’s Progressive Conservative MLAs say the Liberals have scrapped LIFO and sat quietly while Newfoundland interests dominated the consultation.
Three of the four panel members were Newfoundlanders and five of the seven public meetings were held in Newfoundland and Labrador. No site visits were held in Nova Scotia and only one public meeting was held in the province, at the very end of the process.
Nova Scotia Liberals should have been screaming their support for our Nova Scotian shrimp industry jobs, but they were practically silent.
PC MLAs Alfie MacLeod and Eddie Orrell wrote to former federal Fisheries Minister Tootoo on May 19, and again to current Minister, Dominic LeBlanc, on June 14 urging them to be fair and to remember the agreement they all made when allowing Newfoundland vessels into the shrimp fishery when shrimp abundance was high.
The last Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for Northern Shrimp (2007) was clear: “The overall 1996 quota for all SFAs combined (37,600t) is used as a threshold to determine sharing. Thus, a major decline in one or more SFAs could preclude further sharing in any SFA. Should there be a decline in the abundance of the resource, new participants/allocations will be removed from the fishery in reverse order of gaining access – last in, first out (LIFO).”
Last week, Minister LeBlanc announced that the ‘last in, first out’ policy established two decades ago for the northern shrimp industry is no longer sustainable and will be scrapped.
“It’s the Nova Scotia fishermen who worked hard to establish a vibrant northern shrimp industry in this region,” says Orrell. “Cape Breton cannot afford to lose any good jobs, but that’s what is going to happen. They developed the fishery and Newfoundlanders are going to benefit. It’s unfair by any standard.”
The LIFO decision reflects the political pull of Newfoundlanders and highlights the complete lack of influence from elected Liberals in Nova Scotia.
“Liberal Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell made a presentation at a hearing, but where has he been since then?” says Orrell. “Where were all of our Liberal MPs? Either they don’t have any sway in Ottawa or they just didn’t care enough to try and defend our fisheries. Nova Scotians are asking themselves, ‘what’s next?’”
Scrapping LIFO is yet another ill-conceived assault on Nova Scotia’s fisheries by the federal and provincial Liberals. In March, Minister Colwell pull a chill in important foreign lobster markets when he wrongly suggested Nova Scotian lobster quality had issues when he announced a mandatory lobster handling course for all lobster buyers.
“We’ve got a provincial Fisheries Minister whose attempts at a lobster marketing levy failed repeatedly and who somehow thinks it’s a good idea to impose a solution where there wasn’t a problem,” says MacLeod. “We also have a federal Fisheries Minister who scrapped a policy that created stability in the northern shrimp industry for decades. Instead of two like-minded governments working together to support the fishermen of Nova Scotia, they’re actively working against them. It’s too little too late.”