Fisheries Minister wants more power over industry

James McLeod
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Fisheries Minister Darin King. - Telegram file photo

It's a daily frustration for Fisheries Minister Darin King: being held responsible for things that aren't his fault.

This weekend, when he sits down with Keith Ashfield, his federal counterpart, King said he's going to try to take some more responsibility.

"Ideally, yeah, I'd like to have a lot more control over quotas," King said. "We tend, sometimes, to be really left out of the discussion when it comes to that yet it has a direct effect on the Department of Fisheries here and on the province."

A desire to get some control over what happens on the water isn't exactly new for the provincial government. But King said he believes there's currently an appetite on the part of the federal government to talk about it.

King said he's constantly hearing from fishermen and other members of the industry about issues such as on-the-water regulations, start- and end-dates for seasonal fishing and other "red tape" that could be changed.

"I mean, I could spend my time being frustrated all day long because I'm always trying to put out fires and defend myself as minister and the government, because we tend to get blamed even though it's a federal issue," he said. "It's always a balancing act to try to explain to people who's responsible to what in the industry. And you know, more than half the time the gripes and the complaints and the challenges that people have with the fishing industry are not provincially regulated - they're federally regulated."

Liberal fisheries critic Jim Bennett also has some suggestions about what King should talk about during his meeting with Ashfield on Sunday.

In a recent letter to King, Bennett called on the province to start pushing for an Atlantic Canada marketing entity to help sell seafood.

Marketing is often seen as the panacea in the fishery, to help combat low prices and market volatility.

In his letter, Bennett argues that the province should be marketing its seafood under a Canadian label to capitalize on the nation's positive international reputation. "I don't care if you've got a Mountie on it, a beaver, a maple leaf or whatever - it should be one label for Canada," he said. "I think people look at Canada as a favoured nation from all over, and if it's Canadian, I think it will be seen as much safer than Chinese."

Such a marketing entity might not be greeted well by the large processors, Bennett said, but it would help the smaller players, and be good for the industry overall.

King said he wouldn't necessarily be opposed to the idea, but his main focus is on marketing centred around the province.

"I really think Newfoundland and Labrador first of all has to focus on what we have here," King said. "We're competing with everybody. You know, if we're catching codfish here and they're catching codfish in Nova Scotia, then we're competing against Nova Scotia as well." Twitter: TelegramJames


Organizations: Department of Fisheries

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Casey
    January 30, 2012 - 09:53

    This should be a 1st page story. It isn't I suppose because most people have given up on the fishery in NL including our journalist friends. After a 20 year moratorium the cod stocks have not recovered. Why? Unless Ottawa starts taking care of the resource and that includes presssuring NAFO to stop their offshore plunder nothing will change. Why not give NL more control over their fishery, after all they couldn't do any worse than Ottawa has done!

  • It's abot time
    January 29, 2012 - 22:16

    The power over the fishery that Minister King seeks now should never have been given away to Ottawa in the first place. Why have all previous Fisheries Ministers prior to Minister King reneged on their duty of securing this power back into the hands of the province?

  • Graham
    January 29, 2012 - 20:07

    You really do look lost Minister King..Hope you wake up and find your way around very very soon.

  • Harvey
    January 29, 2012 - 18:12

    Good luck, Mr. King. It's tough moving the Rock of Gibraltar. But remember, you and your political colleagues did nothing to help any cause in Ottawa when you went and campaigned for the Conservative bunch. Surely you know about the story on Harper and health care; how about the latest on the OAS? And you haven't seen anything yet. Quoting Peter C. Newman.guest on an Ottawa call in show hosted by Michael Harris...late Dec. or early Jan. " if Harper is elected for a second time with a majority the name Canada will have to be changed."

  • Cyril Rogers
    January 29, 2012 - 15:53

    Mr. King is correct, to a point. This province needs to wrest more, and I would go so far as to say total, control over the fishery. Having done that, it should set up a Fisheries Board to run and administer the fishery. We have tons of expertise and all that is needed is the political will and vision to take this essential step. The Minister, by himself, is but one person and, like any politican, likely to make political decisions much of the time. This resource needs a local management perspective but one with clout and one that represents the interests of small harvesters and communities directly affected by decisions that are made. All political parties have made a mess of this great resource and I see no way that they will ever get it right, if they refuse to give control to a local management board.

  • Scott
    January 28, 2012 - 11:21

    Mr King,You need to put the brake on,Back in ( Nov 2011 ) i meet a man from Corner Brook, Here in Marystown, in a coffee shop,He explain to me whats he would do with Marystown and Port union,To take some of the burden of the fishery, Wild at the same time create jobs for ours two community, Because right now you got TO MANY PEOPLE pulling you into TO many DIRECTION. You need help,call this man,Put him to work,Then you will see a light at the end of the tunnel. If you need this man name,post a comment, i will get back to you,because everyone need help now and then.Now is the time to ask.

  • Charles
    January 28, 2012 - 10:37

    Mr Jim Bennett This the Liberal Plan, That you were talking about,concerning the fishery in NL, What do you think NL, was doing for the pass years,selling firecrackers?Come on Mr Bennett you can come up with something better then that?Because the people of Marystown and Port Union,Much be falling of there chairs,Concerning this plan by the Liberal.