All-party shrimp committee comes back from Ottawa without results

James McLeod
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NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she had “cautious hopeful feelings” after coming back from meetings in Ottawa as part of an all-party committee advocating for changes to federal shrimp allocations.

Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings (centre) speaks to media flanked by Liberal Leader Dwight Ball and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael. The three politicians were in Ottawa this week to lobby for changes to shrimp quota policies.

The all-party committee was originally suggested by Liberal Leader Dwight Ball in the legislature, after the federal government announced major cuts to the shrimp quota and, due to the “last-in, first out” policy (LIFO), that the overwhelming majority of the cuts would be borne by the smaller inshore shrimp fishermen.

“We certainly hope there would be some movement on rescinding the LIFO policy for this year, and, as well, how we’re going to deal with this moving forward,” Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings said. “There was discussions on science, discussions on a way forward, discussions on the impact, economically, on particular communities and regions in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The LIFO policy dictates that the people who were most recently granted shrimp quota allocations should be the first to lose their allocation if the quota needs to be cut.

Since the announcement about quota reductions was made in April, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has not spoken with Hutchings, and she was out of town when the all-party committee was in Ottawa.

Hutchings said they’re demanding a meeting with her before the shrimp season opens later this month.

But despite the lack of firm progress on the issue, all three politicians were upbeat about how the meetings went with the House of Commons and Senate standing committees on fisheries issues.

“The fact that this was an all-party committee was not lost on everyone that we spoke with,” Ball said. “When you get all three political parties that go to Ottawa and make that presentation, it shows and highlights how critical the situation is.”

Michael said she believes they were able to give solid reasons why the inshore fishing fleet needs to be protected.

“I think one of the things that we did see happen is that the committees understood that there’s more to the economics than just how much money the industry makes,” she said. “The point that we made that was really strong was that the ongoing life of the rural community in and of itself is part of the economic analysis that has to happen.”

To drive the point home, Tory backbench MHA Eli Cross introduced a private member’s motion in the legislature, formally calling on the federal government to end the LIFO policy.

The resolution passed unanimously.

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* This article has been corrected.

Organizations: House of Commons and Senate, MHA Eli Cross

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador

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