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Change Islands harvester says removal of herring license unjustified after request to reinstate denied by DFO

After a losing a herring license to what he calls an honest mistake with his online paperwork, fisherman Lloyd White hopes his story will serve as a warning for other harvesters to check and double-check their payments.
After a losing a herring license to what he calls an honest mistake with his online paperwork, fisherman Lloyd White hopes his story will serve as a warning for other harvesters to check and double-check their payments. - SaltWire File Photo
CHANGE ISLANDS, N.L. —

A Change Islands fisherman has lost a license over what he calls an “honest mistake.”

It’s one Lloyd White hopes will serve as a warning for other harvesters. 

Change Islands fish harvester Lloyd White received this letter in February detailing that his herring license will not be reinstated after accidentally not paying the fee in 2017.
Change Islands fish harvester Lloyd White received this letter in February detailing that his herring license will not be reinstated after accidentally not paying the fee in 2017.

 

In a letter from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Regional Licensing Review Committee, dated Feb. 13, White was denied an appeal to reinstate his herring license.

The 58-year-old lost the license when his wife Heather accidentally left the license unpaid in their online paperwork in 2017. The couple was made aware of the error in 2018, when they found the herring license was no longer available under White’s enterprise.

Through a telephone conference call, White explained the error and sought to have the license reinstated. At the time, he says it seemed promising the license would be returned.

“We told them it was a slip up, we didn’t intend to let the license go,” said White. “I thought the call went well and I felt pretty confident I would get the license back.”

The Feb. 13 letter states that White’s request to reinstate the license underwent a detailed review before being denied, but a reason beyond that is not given.

Now, White is writing a letter to DFO Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and the Atlantic Licensing Appeal Board to try and turn around this latest decision.

No reminder in place

In an emailed response, the DFO would not comment on White’s case specifically, but stated that since 2013 they have stopped sending license reminder letters to harvesters. Instead, through the National Online Licensing System (NOLS), harvesters are encouraged to check their accounts often.

Since NOLS was put in place, harvesters are required to pay for their licenses in this online format. The email stated that DFO regional offices can take payments for licenses in exceptional cases, but the capacity to do so is limited.

In hindsight, White now wishes these license reminders were still in place, as he feels this may have prevented his now two-year ordeal.

“I’m not computer literate enough; for whatever reason we missed paying for that license,” he said. “The onus is on the fisherman to have their license paid for, I understand that. But it would have been nice to receive a reminder. I may have then got the license paid in time.”

Warning

Fortunately for White, the herring license is not a mainstay of his enterprise. He says with other fisheries taking up his time and the low signs of herring around his area, many years he does not fish it.

But because this same scenario could have happened with one of his main quotas like cod or crab, White hopes his story will serve as a warning for other harvesters to check and double-check their payments.

“If I had accidentally not paid my crab license it would be a different story,” he said. “Crab is my bread and butter, you wouldn’t make it without that license – not on this coast. Cod helps a lot now, but crab is what I really depend on.

“I want this to be a warning. I might not ever get my license back but I’d like to get this out there and let people know.”

kyle.greenham@thecentralvoice.ca




 

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