When it comes to unprocessed fish, the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture seems to have an inconsistent policy.
On the one hand, the province has rejected a request by Ocean Choice International (OCI) to ship unprocessed fish out of the province. On the other hand, the government has allowed out-of-province buyers to purchase sea urchins directly from fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador. How does that make sense?
But that’s not the only confounding question. Fisheries and Aquaculture announced in August a review of the sea urchin industry to “determine whether the industry has sufficient processing capability and harvesters have sufficient outlets for their catch.”
Currently, there’s only one licenced sea urchin processor in Newfoundland and Labrador — Wood-Pick Enterprises, based in Wareham, Bonavista Bay.
The kicker here is that, at the same time the department announced the review, officials also decided to allow outside buyers in.
Wood-Pick says it can’t compete with the outside buyers.
How can the department accurately gauge the provincial industry when it opens the door to outside buyers?
It’s almost as if government is setting up the review to fail.
MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl
Note: the provincial government announced a change potentially allowing OCI to export unprocessed fish late Friday.