Rarely is there much good news for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, according to Bill Barry, but there was some today in his opinion.
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced earlier today he is accepting the Ministerial Advisory Panel’s recommendation to replace the Last In-First Out (LIFO) policy governing northern shrimp allocations with a system of proportional sharing.
“It’s a good decision,” Barry said. “I think most people connected with the inshore fishery in Newfoundland, in any way, thought LIFO was something that shouldn’t have been done in the beginning. In many respects, when the inshore agreed to LIFO they had a gun held to their head.”
When there is a resource adjacent to the shores, like the northern shrimp fishery, those with access invest in boats, equipment, and plants. A wrong has been righted, according to the fisheries tycoon.
Barry expects the proportional sharing will be based on data over at least the last decade.
“In my opinion, it is a math exercise now,” he said.
He called the panel’s recommendation and the minister’s decision good common sense.
“In terms of the fishery in Newfoundland, and trying to maintain some viability in the industry, I think it is the right thing to be done,” he said.
Barry doesn’t expect everybody will agree. However, he considers the offshore fishing industry a good business with viable enterprises.
Allocating an interim quota to get fishermen on the water and shrimp in the plants is also a positive move by the minister, he said.
One of those fishermen is Roland Genge of Anchor Point. He shares Barry’s enthusiasm over the decision.
“I think it is a step in the right direction,” he said. “People are listening. I like the work this panel did. They did a great job in the way they listened to a lot of the fishermen in the inshore, the plants, and the community leaders.”
He is hoping for better times ahead with respect to the northern shrimp fishery. It continues by the minister again listening to the panel’s recommendations with respect to the proportional sharing, according to Genge. The panel suggested looking at data from 1997-2009.
“That gives everybody a pretty fair shot at the way people caught their shrimp and their percentages,” he said. “It should be kept status quo in that way.”
Changes can cause severe problems, according to the fishermen.
“If you start changing the sharing arrangements, you’ll find out somebody who invested a lot of money to buy into it would probably have nothing,” he said. “The best way to go is the historical shares.”