Reversal of fortunes

Terry Roberts
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Restructuring may see crab licence taken from Little Bay Islands; St. Joseph's poised to benefit

A tiny island community in Notre Dame Bay could be one of the first to feel the effects of some tough times to come in the troubled fishing industry.

And another struggling settlement on the Avalon Peninsula could see its fortunes improved.

It all has to do with the location of a very valuable crab processing licence, and a company's desire to consolidate operations.

The future is uncertain for the fish plant on Little Bay Islands. The owner has applied to transfer the crab licence to a plant on the Avalon Peninsula. - Photo by Jim Forward/Special to The Telegram

A tiny island community in Notre Dame Bay could be one of the first to feel the effects of some tough times to come in the troubled fishing industry.

And another struggling settlement on the Avalon Peninsula could see its fortunes improved.

It all has to do with the location of a very valuable crab processing licence, and a company's desire to consolidate operations.

Here's how it could play out.

Cold North Seafoods, which is owned by the Daley family, wants to transfer its crab licence from Little Bay Islands to its plant in St. Joseph's.

The Daleys have their roots in St. Joseph's.

It's a move that could devastate one community and boost the fortunes of another.

"If we lose our licence, we're finished," said longtime plantworker and Little Bay Islands resident Ruth Roberts.

St. Joseph's Mayor Tony Healey is careful not to sound too excited, but is clearly pleased.

"I'd like to make it clear that I'm not wishing anybody ill on Little Bay Islands. But this could benefit us," Healey said.

Cold North has applied to the province's Fish Processing Licencing Board for permission to transfer the crab licence.

If approved, the company would process both shrimp and crab, two of the most lucrative species in the Newfoundland fishing industry, in St. Joseph's.

It would surely boost production at the St. Joseph's facility, and mean more work for the estimated 100 seasonal employees, who come from all over the St. Mary's Bay area.

Healey hasn't had any meetings with the company, but has heard rumours of the possible transfer.

Without the licence, the future of the fewer than 100 people who live on Little Bay Islands - and dozens more who commuted there for work last year - is in doubt.

The plant operated from May to November last year by another company, Golden Shell Fisheries of Hickman's Harbour, processing crab, herring and mackerel.

News of the transfer request is not a complete surprise to those who follow the industry.

Most of those who live on the island are seniors, and nearly 40 of the 70-80 people who worked at the plant last year came from places such as Springdale, Leading Tickles, Beachside and Little Bay.

And the island is only accessible by ferry from Shoal Arm, which poses transportation and other logistical challenges.

But it doesn't make the situation any easier for Roberts.

"The community will die. We're going to have to move," she said.

Little Bay Islands is a popular tourist destination. But it's essentially a one-industry town, with its roots in the fishery going back many generations.

So the loss of the fish plant will suck much of the remaining life out of the place.

There are only five school-aged children, and the declining population is gradually getting older as the younger generation leaves for opportunities elsewhere.

What's ironic is that after several hard years in which the plant was dormant, 2009 was a good year.

Cold North Seafoods is headquartered in Mount Pearl. The company also has a plant in La Scie.

Officials with Cold North could not be reached for comment.

Public notice of the transfer request was published in The Telegram on May 8. Those who want to comment on the request have until May 22.

The board will make a recommendation on whether to grant the transfer. The ultimate decision rests with Clyde Jackman, Minster of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The request follows months of public discussion and debate about the future of the industry.

There's been general acknowledgement among key players - including Jackman - that there are too many processing plants and fishing enterprises.

The government, fisheries union and seafood producers signed an agreement last year, with a view toward restructuring the industry in a practical, organized manner.

When asked if the transfer request was a sign of things to come, Jackman emphasized that the fishery will always be the backbone of rural Newfoundland.

It's structure remains to be seen, he added.

"I'm not saying one thing yea or nay right here, but the structure of the fishery is evolving before us," Jackman said.

"We can attempt to manage it, or let it unfold."

Little Bay Islands Mayor Perry Locke could not be reached for comment.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Fish Processing Licencing Board

Geographic location: Little Bay, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland Daleys Springdale Leading Tickles Shoal Arm Mount Pearl La Scie

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Recent comments

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Brad --- thanks for moving away. You did a great service to all Newfoundlander's by doing so.

  • Eddy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    I think this is the right omve to make. In the long run every business has to make hard decisions. I understand that Little Bay Islands will suffer and those in St. Joseph's benefit, however why keep both plants open and running if the workload can be handled in one plant? If our Fishery is going to survive you will see this type of thing happen a lot over the next few years. I think the Daleys are making the correct move. I only wish people would leave emotions out of business decisons. If this transfer is not completed then most likley both plants will not even have enough work to even allow thier employees to apply for employment benefits. It is to bad that somone has to suffer but by making this hard decision the Daleys have done the right thing. I only hope that others share my point of view and not think badly of the Daleys for making the right decison for their company.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Calvin who said I was from that town? I don't live anywhere handy to it, I moved to the mainland long ago because of @rseholes like yourself. You have proved my point by replying to my comment, I guess you are one of the guys who works for less just to screw your buddy, once again a defeatist. We need to stick together not shoot each other. Your youth and ignorance is showing in your comments as young people know little else these days than hitting the bong or popping pills. It is puff puff pass Calvin. I did look out for myself because I knew noone would look out for me. If you want to stay in NL and make poverty wages go ahead, but I moved where I get paid what I am worth, not what someone thinks I am worth. These towns have survived for hundreds of years and it is only through government negligence that they have become so dependent. It must be that have province B.S. that everyone is talking about.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Welcome to the real world.

  • Dianne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    I remember when my town of Little bay Islands was the Hub of The Green Bay,with schooners from all over Newfoundland sailing there to take on salt and offload fish,when the fish and crab plant was going strong. Because of The weakness of previous governments,draggers from other countries scavenged our fishing grounds,taking all species,everything in it's path was destroyed. This led to the downfall of our inshore fishery and the demise of the backbone of our province...the small towns scattering our coastline. We are another casualty,but no one understands that,unless you lived through it,especially the younger generation that had to choose other careers,and have moved on. That is the reason our population has dropped to 82. If the fishery had stayed strong,as it should have,many of our young men would not have moved away. Speak not,of what you know not of .

  • Maurice E.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Not just the plant workers, but what will closing this plant to the economics of the small boat fishers in this area?

    They will not be able to sell to the St. Mary's Bay plant, and the cost of trucking to the plant will mean they will have to be padi less for their product, affect the quality of the product and affect the whole economics of the industry in the Little Bay island region.

    All so that Daley's can make a even greater profit than they do no. If that's the kind of restructuring Jackman is pushing, rural NL is doomed.

  • Carol
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I AM a concerned resident of Little Bay Islands... vehemently opposed to the transfer of this license. Danny Williams campaigned on a platform of concern for rural Newfoundland... seems to be only platforms of oil, he's concerned with now. Since actions speak louder than words, his campaign appears to be a farce, as he guts the Outports in favor of the Avalon & such. Now Mr. Jackman has a chance to prove me wrong... & I hope he does just that.
    Terry Daley came to Little Bay Islands years ago... wealthy, but not quite as wealthy as when he left... on his privately owned plane. The multi-species license was here long before he arrived. He made a fortune in our community because of hard-working laborers, not only from my island... but from other rural towns around Green Bay. The Crab Industry was flourishing on LBI. Then along came John Efford, issuing processing licenses all over the province... two new plants sprung up in our area, & we got less & less product to process as a result... because of the same government who was setting out to save & protect our way of life . Why should our community, or any community, have to suffer & lose it's dignity... so another can prosper?? The residents of LBI wish no ill towards the residents of St. Joseph's either, Mayor Healey, but here is my suggestion to the Daley Bros.:
    If you want to use the license... use it on Little Bay Islands... as was intended & agreed upon when the business originally changed hands. The license was to stay here, thus helping to ensure a future for our island. If you choose not to do so... then I hope you don't get it to use anywhere else! Sure, we have a declining population... not an excuse for shortage of workers, though! At the beginning of this season, when work seemed promising, there was no shortage of people willing to move to LBI seeking work, thus providing a 'living' to many from around the bay... & an economic boom for us. I am pleased to note that we are becoming more aware of our 'heritage'... but, tourism can never take the place of 'real' industry for LBI. How many communities can boast of 100% employment?? We have... time & time again, due to our processing plant. That's what they call new money & also a boost to the provincial economy as a whole. It's not fair, or productive, to sacrifice one community for another... especially one as steeped in fishing tradition & history as ours is.
    St. Joseph's will do fine without our processing license... after all, they process shrimp... this season's current gold-dust ! I wish them well... but not at the expense of my town.

  • Elaine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    My name is Elaine Simms and I am the former mayor of Little Bay Islands.

    Although I am far from Little Bay Islands at the moment it will always be my home and to say I am shocked and saddened by what I just read is putting it mildly.

    The residents of Little Bay Islands have fought long and hard to keep that processing licence in our town.

    It's sad to see that the government of today would sacrifice the livelihood of one town and knowingly cause it demise because surely that is what will happen if the government makes the decision to move the processing licence from Little Bay Islands to St. Mary's Bay.

    Where is your member in all this?.....you need his voice and his support behind you.

    We may be few in number my friends but we are not defeated. Keep up the good fight the way we always have.

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Welcome to Capitalism.

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    no brad, we can't always be *looking out for each others backs* when it comes to business, business doesn't survive that way. you need to move on from the notion of neighbourhood socialism, that's a very old and very dead notion. i have an idea, try taking care of yourself rather than expecting others to take care of you. your isolation and the fact you have no youth in your town of 80 people are not the responsibility of this company. i'm sorry, get over it and become independent.

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    brad that company is going where it is going to be paid what it is worth, not what some nearby townfolk say it is worth. you say, 'these towns have survived for hundreds of years and it is only through government negligence that they have become so dependent' well I agree government should never have interfered with baby bonuses and EI and welfare. it's like keeping the body alive but the brain is dead already. it's not the governments job to provide life support to each and every of the million dying communities out there on your island, listen if you can't afford to retire and live there then move to where the work is. thanks for making my point. now you stoop to insults because you ran out of merit for your argument. you're just another typical baymen who whines and complains and expects government handouts. it seems you slipped and told us what you do for a past time, brainiac.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I predict crap and shrimp will be very, very valuable products to harvest, this time next year. Two-Thirds of the entire U.S. supply will most likely vanish, or at the very least, be off limits.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Well, it's a very hard pill to swallow when you go to China and see everyone going to work with a big smile on their faces, they are doing Canadian jobs of processing our fish and returning it to be sold on our own market shelves. The same in Mexico and Taiwan, they take care of the manfacturing of our garments and many other products putting their people to work. It may be cheaper labour for the big companies in Canada while our people are collecting welfare.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    LOL, CRAB, spellchecker can't catch everything I suppose, heh. If dyslexia were painful, I might be more apt to notice.

  • John Doe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    While there is obviously a lot of ignorance surrounding this issue, bottom line is this: Many people, especially rural Newfoundlanders, recognize that there are more important things in life than making the big bucks; we simply are not willing to trade things like being close to family, friends & living in a safe place that MEANS something to us for making more money, having a big house, a shiny truck & accumulating lots of crap...All we want is to be able to make enough to live a decent life in the place where we LIVE...That processing license has been in the town for decades & it should remain there...Regarding this company & their responsibility to the people of the island, we really don't care about Daleys & they can go on their merry way, as they have done before...But here's what we're going to do about taking care of ourselves: We're going to fight to keep that license & in the end we will be successful, as we have been in the past...Little Bay Islands is far from finished...Oh, & don't worry about the Daleys', I'm sure they will find some other small town to screw over so they can get their next yacht or helicopter...

  • Lower Taxes
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    rural NL is doomed.

    The tiny communities that people like me pay a lot of extra taxes for are doomed? Is that supposed to get sympathy? If there's no economy somewhere then move. That's how Newfoundland was settled. Were cod abundant in Europe, nobody would have come here.

    Whatever happened to Newfoundlanders being hard working. Far too many people want to sit around while others pay for them. Go go where there is fish or work. Stop expecting everyone else to pay for you.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Mike arent you sympathetic. If someone came and told you that your way of life is disappearing, and your town was being relocated I think you'd have a different tune. Why do Newfoundlanders always put each other down and never want to see anyone prosper? From the drivel I've seen on here lately I am starting to think Stephen Harper was right when he called us defeatists. We are jealous of poor fisherpersons/plantworkers who don't make enough money to keep themselves afloat, but we'll kiss a businessman's arse to get a job, and will undercut your buddy for said job. What happened to helping your neighbour? Lately its been kick your neighbour when they're down. Karma takes care of idiots like Mike.

  • Randy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    If this is left in the hands of liein clyde jackman,the crab licence may end up in China like most of nl shimp.What a moron this guy is

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Brad --- thanks for moving away. You did a great service to all Newfoundlander's by doing so.

  • Eddy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    I think this is the right omve to make. In the long run every business has to make hard decisions. I understand that Little Bay Islands will suffer and those in St. Joseph's benefit, however why keep both plants open and running if the workload can be handled in one plant? If our Fishery is going to survive you will see this type of thing happen a lot over the next few years. I think the Daleys are making the correct move. I only wish people would leave emotions out of business decisons. If this transfer is not completed then most likley both plants will not even have enough work to even allow thier employees to apply for employment benefits. It is to bad that somone has to suffer but by making this hard decision the Daleys have done the right thing. I only hope that others share my point of view and not think badly of the Daleys for making the right decison for their company.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Calvin who said I was from that town? I don't live anywhere handy to it, I moved to the mainland long ago because of @rseholes like yourself. You have proved my point by replying to my comment, I guess you are one of the guys who works for less just to screw your buddy, once again a defeatist. We need to stick together not shoot each other. Your youth and ignorance is showing in your comments as young people know little else these days than hitting the bong or popping pills. It is puff puff pass Calvin. I did look out for myself because I knew noone would look out for me. If you want to stay in NL and make poverty wages go ahead, but I moved where I get paid what I am worth, not what someone thinks I am worth. These towns have survived for hundreds of years and it is only through government negligence that they have become so dependent. It must be that have province B.S. that everyone is talking about.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Welcome to the real world.

  • Dianne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    I remember when my town of Little bay Islands was the Hub of The Green Bay,with schooners from all over Newfoundland sailing there to take on salt and offload fish,when the fish and crab plant was going strong. Because of The weakness of previous governments,draggers from other countries scavenged our fishing grounds,taking all species,everything in it's path was destroyed. This led to the downfall of our inshore fishery and the demise of the backbone of our province...the small towns scattering our coastline. We are another casualty,but no one understands that,unless you lived through it,especially the younger generation that had to choose other careers,and have moved on. That is the reason our population has dropped to 82. If the fishery had stayed strong,as it should have,many of our young men would not have moved away. Speak not,of what you know not of .

  • Maurice E.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Not just the plant workers, but what will closing this plant to the economics of the small boat fishers in this area?

    They will not be able to sell to the St. Mary's Bay plant, and the cost of trucking to the plant will mean they will have to be padi less for their product, affect the quality of the product and affect the whole economics of the industry in the Little Bay island region.

    All so that Daley's can make a even greater profit than they do no. If that's the kind of restructuring Jackman is pushing, rural NL is doomed.

  • Carol
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    I AM a concerned resident of Little Bay Islands... vehemently opposed to the transfer of this license. Danny Williams campaigned on a platform of concern for rural Newfoundland... seems to be only platforms of oil, he's concerned with now. Since actions speak louder than words, his campaign appears to be a farce, as he guts the Outports in favor of the Avalon & such. Now Mr. Jackman has a chance to prove me wrong... & I hope he does just that.
    Terry Daley came to Little Bay Islands years ago... wealthy, but not quite as wealthy as when he left... on his privately owned plane. The multi-species license was here long before he arrived. He made a fortune in our community because of hard-working laborers, not only from my island... but from other rural towns around Green Bay. The Crab Industry was flourishing on LBI. Then along came John Efford, issuing processing licenses all over the province... two new plants sprung up in our area, & we got less & less product to process as a result... because of the same government who was setting out to save & protect our way of life . Why should our community, or any community, have to suffer & lose it's dignity... so another can prosper?? The residents of LBI wish no ill towards the residents of St. Joseph's either, Mayor Healey, but here is my suggestion to the Daley Bros.:
    If you want to use the license... use it on Little Bay Islands... as was intended & agreed upon when the business originally changed hands. The license was to stay here, thus helping to ensure a future for our island. If you choose not to do so... then I hope you don't get it to use anywhere else! Sure, we have a declining population... not an excuse for shortage of workers, though! At the beginning of this season, when work seemed promising, there was no shortage of people willing to move to LBI seeking work, thus providing a 'living' to many from around the bay... & an economic boom for us. I am pleased to note that we are becoming more aware of our 'heritage'... but, tourism can never take the place of 'real' industry for LBI. How many communities can boast of 100% employment?? We have... time & time again, due to our processing plant. That's what they call new money & also a boost to the provincial economy as a whole. It's not fair, or productive, to sacrifice one community for another... especially one as steeped in fishing tradition & history as ours is.
    St. Joseph's will do fine without our processing license... after all, they process shrimp... this season's current gold-dust ! I wish them well... but not at the expense of my town.

  • Elaine
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    My name is Elaine Simms and I am the former mayor of Little Bay Islands.

    Although I am far from Little Bay Islands at the moment it will always be my home and to say I am shocked and saddened by what I just read is putting it mildly.

    The residents of Little Bay Islands have fought long and hard to keep that processing licence in our town.

    It's sad to see that the government of today would sacrifice the livelihood of one town and knowingly cause it demise because surely that is what will happen if the government makes the decision to move the processing licence from Little Bay Islands to St. Mary's Bay.

    Where is your member in all this?.....you need his voice and his support behind you.

    We may be few in number my friends but we are not defeated. Keep up the good fight the way we always have.

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Welcome to Capitalism.

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    no brad, we can't always be *looking out for each others backs* when it comes to business, business doesn't survive that way. you need to move on from the notion of neighbourhood socialism, that's a very old and very dead notion. i have an idea, try taking care of yourself rather than expecting others to take care of you. your isolation and the fact you have no youth in your town of 80 people are not the responsibility of this company. i'm sorry, get over it and become independent.

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    brad that company is going where it is going to be paid what it is worth, not what some nearby townfolk say it is worth. you say, 'these towns have survived for hundreds of years and it is only through government negligence that they have become so dependent' well I agree government should never have interfered with baby bonuses and EI and welfare. it's like keeping the body alive but the brain is dead already. it's not the governments job to provide life support to each and every of the million dying communities out there on your island, listen if you can't afford to retire and live there then move to where the work is. thanks for making my point. now you stoop to insults because you ran out of merit for your argument. you're just another typical baymen who whines and complains and expects government handouts. it seems you slipped and told us what you do for a past time, brainiac.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    I predict crap and shrimp will be very, very valuable products to harvest, this time next year. Two-Thirds of the entire U.S. supply will most likely vanish, or at the very least, be off limits.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Well, it's a very hard pill to swallow when you go to China and see everyone going to work with a big smile on their faces, they are doing Canadian jobs of processing our fish and returning it to be sold on our own market shelves. The same in Mexico and Taiwan, they take care of the manfacturing of our garments and many other products putting their people to work. It may be cheaper labour for the big companies in Canada while our people are collecting welfare.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    LOL, CRAB, spellchecker can't catch everything I suppose, heh. If dyslexia were painful, I might be more apt to notice.

  • John Doe
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    While there is obviously a lot of ignorance surrounding this issue, bottom line is this: Many people, especially rural Newfoundlanders, recognize that there are more important things in life than making the big bucks; we simply are not willing to trade things like being close to family, friends & living in a safe place that MEANS something to us for making more money, having a big house, a shiny truck & accumulating lots of crap...All we want is to be able to make enough to live a decent life in the place where we LIVE...That processing license has been in the town for decades & it should remain there...Regarding this company & their responsibility to the people of the island, we really don't care about Daleys & they can go on their merry way, as they have done before...But here's what we're going to do about taking care of ourselves: We're going to fight to keep that license & in the end we will be successful, as we have been in the past...Little Bay Islands is far from finished...Oh, & don't worry about the Daleys', I'm sure they will find some other small town to screw over so they can get their next yacht or helicopter...

  • Lower Taxes
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    rural NL is doomed.

    The tiny communities that people like me pay a lot of extra taxes for are doomed? Is that supposed to get sympathy? If there's no economy somewhere then move. That's how Newfoundland was settled. Were cod abundant in Europe, nobody would have come here.

    Whatever happened to Newfoundlanders being hard working. Far too many people want to sit around while others pay for them. Go go where there is fish or work. Stop expecting everyone else to pay for you.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Mike arent you sympathetic. If someone came and told you that your way of life is disappearing, and your town was being relocated I think you'd have a different tune. Why do Newfoundlanders always put each other down and never want to see anyone prosper? From the drivel I've seen on here lately I am starting to think Stephen Harper was right when he called us defeatists. We are jealous of poor fisherpersons/plantworkers who don't make enough money to keep themselves afloat, but we'll kiss a businessman's arse to get a job, and will undercut your buddy for said job. What happened to helping your neighbour? Lately its been kick your neighbour when they're down. Karma takes care of idiots like Mike.

  • Randy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    If this is left in the hands of liein clyde jackman,the crab licence may end up in China like most of nl shimp.What a moron this guy is