Shrimp fish­er­men anx­ious as LIFO de­ci­sion looms

Off­shore cap­tain one of many on edge with the wait


A de­ci­sion has yet to be made on whether or not the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will main­tain the last in, first out (LIFO) ap­proach for al­lo­cat­ing north­ern shrimp quo­tas.

An ad­vi­sory panel is due to sub­mit a rec­om­men­da­tion on LIFO to Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic LeBlanc, who will have to de­cide what hap­pens next.

“The min­is­te­rial ad­vi­sory panel has com­pleted its re­view and will be sub­mit­ting its fi­nal re­port to the min­is­ter very soon,” a De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) spokesper­son stated in an emailed re­sponse to ques­tions last Wed­nes­day.

When­ever it comes, the de­ci­sion is in no way an easy one.

Cap­tain­ing the off­shore trawler New­found Pi­o­neer about 100 nau­ti­cal miles off of Nain, Carl Hil­lier told The Tele­gram he sim­ply hopes the rec­om­men­da­tion to the min­is­ter takes into con­sid­er­a­tion more than just ar­gu­ments around ad­ja­cency and his­tor­i­cal ties, as pressed to date by the Fish, Food and Al­lied Workers (FFAW)-Uni­for and pro­vin­cial po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

“I’m a New­found­lan­der. I’m from Grand Bank on the Burin Penin­sula. I’ve been fish­ing for ba­si­cally 35 years. I’ve spent the ma­jor­ity of my time on the Labrador coast. My father, if there’s such thing as a grave on the ocean, his grave is in (shrimp fish­ing) Area 6,” he said.

His father was a fish­er­man, who drowned in 1979 af­ter be­ing pulled over­board while on a trip out for cod. Hil­lier was 12 years old at the time.

“I don’t know where the FFAW are get­ting off say­ing this stuff.”

When it comes to the health of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, Hil­lier said he does not be­lieve pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tive busi­ness ar­range­ments for on­shore fish plants have re­ally been ex­plored.

His cur­rent ship’s crew of about 60 (in­clud­ing re­lief per­son­nel) largely hail from around the prov­ince, he said, be­fore rat­tling off a long list of home­towns.

TC Me­dia has re­ported the sto­ries of in­shore fish­er­men from some of those com­mu­ni­ties - fish­er­men who have been en­cour­aged to in­vest heav­ily in the shrimp fish­ery, adding boats and gear, tak­ing on high debt loads, even with LIFO looming.

Right now, the ques­tion is whether or not the smaller en­ter­prises should con­tinue to take the bulk of quota cuts as the shrimp re­source de­clines, par­tic­u­larly off the north­east coast of the is­land, in the shared Area 6.

The in­shore wants the LIFO pol­icy to end, plus sole ac­cess to the fish­ing area, say­ing the larger, “off­shore” trawlers can fish in many other ar­eas, namely fur­ther north.

The off­shore has ar­gued the North is not al­ways ac­ces­si­ble.

On one hand, the FFAW and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment say another year of LIFO risks about 3,000 jobs in-prov­ince (in­clud­ing 1,200-1,300 fish har­vesters) and the clo­sure of mul­ti­ple fish plants (there were 10 plants han­dling shrimp in 2015), killing an eco­nomic driver for many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

On the other hand, if LIFO is aban­doned and the 10 larger fac­tory freezer boats are de­nied ac­cess to Area 6, it would be a loss of roughly 30 per cent of their quota in some cases, po­ten­tially killing a busi­ness model that sup­ports year-round jobs.

Nei­ther a rec­om­men­da­tion to the min­is­ter nor a de­ci­sion on LIFO is yet avail­able. Any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion re­leased will be pro­vided in fu­ture edi­tions and at www.north­ern­

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