The FFAW is taking the right stand

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Fisheries, Food and Allied Workers boss Earle McCurdy has rightfully turned thumbs down on the proposal to bring in foreign vessels to catch yellowtail and allow 75 per cent of the resource to be exported without benefit to the province.

Mr. McCurdy understands that this proposal brings us to within one step of the end — a point where no benefit would be derived from our fish resources.

The reality remains that the rural economy of this province rests principally on making the best long-term decisions to rebuild and revitalize the fishery.

Unlike many groundfish resources, yellowtail flounder is a relatively abundant resource on the Grand Banks which is in a very healthy state. For Canada, its quota share is about 35 million pounds.

Most of this allocation is awarded annually to Ocean Choice International by virtue of the offshore enterprise allocation system. This system provides resource access, but it does not have established benefit requirements attached.

In the case of other natural resources, governments require that benefits be derived by way of investment, employment, harvesting or extraction royalties, processing, value-added, etc. Governments now need to modify policies to adopt such principles for our fishery resources. Otherwise, companies will harvest the resource for little or no public benefit to maximize their enterprise returns.

The current proposal clearly leads to this outcome and that is why Mr. McCurdy has shown leadership in disapproving of it.  

The proposal before government does not merit approval. It falls well short of the benefits criteria that should be applied to resource access of this nature.

The reason why this resource has not been utilized for many years is due to the disjointed structure of the industry as it is not economically viable. It is similar to so many issues in the fishery that remain unresolved because we refuse to adapt and deal with the real issues we face. Yellowtail is but another example.

It represents another significant opportunity that we do not appear to want to resolve for long-term benefit.

The yellowtail resource offers real opportunities to reinvest and rebuild our rural economy.

There are real alternatives to harvest this resource through new investment; there are real opportunities to process all of this resource in local  plants; and the resulting products can be marketed internationally.

The reality is, however, that we must reconfigure these activities and do things differently.

Resource users must be prepared to invest and provide reasonable benefits to the economy or, if they choose not to pursue alternatives, then others must be provided that investment opportunity.

The time has come to redevelop this industry rather than give away our resources for little or no benefit. Governments need to invite proposals to utilize the unused quotas, approximately 75 per cent or 12,000 tonnes.

This resource can be harvested and processed for substantial economic and employment benefits that can assist to rebuild our rural economy.

We should not dismiss these opportunities.

The government rejected a similar proposal just a short time ago, and it should maintain consistency and do the same now. There are much greater benefits to be derived than those currently proposed.

Gabe Gregory writes from

Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

Organizations: Allied Workers

Geographic location: Canada, Portugal Cove

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Recent comments

  • Petertwo
    November 03, 2012 - 06:33

    Economic genocide indeed. Why did anyone bother to fight the Nazis, they obviously had the right solution for what they did'nt like. Right, mighty man of business? And when there is no one left in rural Canada what are the cities going to do for food? People who provide the food have been looked down upon as lessor beings for centuries, the dark ages are with us still. As for discriminating, who is not a "worker"?

  • Common Sense
    November 02, 2012 - 14:09

    "This resource can be harvested and processed for substantial economic and employment benefits that can assist to rebuild our rural economy." Ridiculous. Fishery Products lost a lot of money over the years trying to process yellowtail in NL. Ocean Choice tried to do the same thing for years in Marystown and they also showed significant losses verified by an independent auditor. Does Mr. Gregory have a magical formula that no one else knows about that will suddenly turn a profit on this species? Or perhaps he thinks it is justifiable for our government to subsidize huge losses just so that people can work in rural Newfoundland?

  • Concerned
    November 02, 2012 - 13:57

    "Governments need to invite proposals to utilize the unused quotas, approximately 75 per cent or 12,000 tonnes" Didn't Ocean Choice pay a lot of money to FPI a few years ago to purchase these and other quotas? I wouldn't think our government would want to appropriate the assets of a private business.

  • Earle McCurdy Kudos to you stick with your plan or we will lose our fish and the great industry that should have resulted forever .
    November 02, 2012 - 10:24

    A Business Man-- To: A Business Man I am so glad we have freedom of speech because what you write is so True to life as to the way how BIG BUSINESS operates on the back of the people's natural resources. I know also BUSINESS MAN that you are a proponent of this model and that you benefit greatly from the model yourself since you have alluded to that aspect many times in your commentaries, but it is WRONG and CORRUPT for the masses or the electorate not to benefit from their own natural resources simply beacause Governments and Big Business are in cahoots OR are in bed with each other. This Global Free Trade Business Model has to be scrapped completely before the whole world which has fallen to its knees will be unable to arise from that position.

    • a business man
      November 02, 2012 - 17:00

      This is nothing to do with BIG BUSINESS. This is about taxpayers like me who get nothing from the fish resource and who get no benefit from the creation of fishery jobs. I argue that first, the majority of taxpayers get little to no benefit from the creation of fishery jobs and would be better served if newfoundland would export the unprocessed fish and use the royalty money to improve health care and other social services. I am saying that royalty money used to benefit EVERYONE is better for newfoundland than is creating fishery jobs. This has nothing to do with BIG BUSINESS, and everything to do with using the fish to benefit every newfoundlander. The fish can be used to benefit a group larger than the fishery.

  • p earle
    November 02, 2012 - 09:50

    I wonder Gabe what took Pat so long to see what I told him a couple of years ago..that.."Governments ... need to modify policies". Didn't want to upset the godfather, I spose? p e

  • a business man
    November 02, 2012 - 08:31

    Forget rural newfoundland. What about those of us in the city? Are we not entitled to benefit from the fish too? They way I see it, we should let OCI export the fish raw and charge them a royalty. THEN, we should use the money to improve health care in infrastructure. In case those in rural newfoundland have forgotten, there are many more citizens outside of rural newfoundland who can benefit from the fish without the province having a single fishery worker. I say we forget the workers, charge OCI royalties and make the services in newfoundland better for ALL OF US>

    • Casey
      November 02, 2012 - 10:15

      You must be a failed business man!

    • Ken Collis
      November 03, 2012 - 07:17

      Well, Mr. Business Man, please explain one little thing to me. St. John's provides what, exactly, to the economy? There are no resources, only government jobs, and those that support that vast amount of people. I think that rural NL should share the resources to the same extent that St. John's shares the government jobs.