I would like to address some of the points raised in a Telegram editorial on northern shrimp quotas, which appeared to have been drafted with little research into actual facts.
Let me be very clear: I fully understand the impact of this decision on coastal and rural communities.
Since 2008, I have had the good fortune to visit many Newfoundland and Labrador rural communities.
As a result I understand that the inshore fishery is both a way of life and the economic backbone of towns struggling with significant challenges.
That is why I am a strong supporter of an independent inshore fleet and I was proud to carry out the legacy of my good friend Loyola Hearn in implementing the policy on preserving the independence of the inshore Fishery in Atlantic Canada (PIIFCAF) earlier this year.
Quota decisions are never easy and science must be respected. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians understand that well, and the vast majority of the stakeholders I met with before making this decision agreed on the need for catch reductions.
Some facts do need to be clarified on the “last in first out” (LIFO) policy.
LIFO has been a part of this fishery since 1997. It was adopted by the Liberal government of the time, and endorsed by the Fish Food and Allied Worker’s Union (FFAW.)
New entrants received the vast majority of new access since that time under the understanding that should the resource decline the LIFO policy would be in effect.
When stocks increased, the inshore fleet received 90 per cent of the increase, with 10 per cent going to the offshore fleet.
As a result, even with the reductions, the inshore fleet today has a quota 22,000 tonnes more than in 1997 while the offshore fleet has a quota of only 2,000 tonnes more than in 1997.
I personally met with industry stakeholders, special allocation holders, the FFAW, processors, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and land-claims bodies to get their views and input prior to making a final decision.
In the end, we had to take a responsible and sustainable approach and I accepted, while difficult, that the terms agreed to previously by all parties needed to be respected.
Having been raised in a fishing community, I understand the impact this decline in the shrimp stock is having. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can be assured that moving forward I will continue to have an open dialogue with fishermen and all stakeholders as we adapt to change.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans