Ports closed

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL MACEACHERN THE COM­PASS

The clo­sure of Cana­dian ports to Faroese and Green­land fish­ing ves­sels is go­ing to be felt in at least two busy Con­cep­tion Bay North har­bours.

The mayor of Har­bour Grace says the clo­sure of Cana­dian ports to fish­ing ves­sels from the Faroe Is­lands and Green­land is a point­less ges­ture that will only hurt the lo­cal econ­omy.

On Feb. 14, fed­eral Fisheries Min­is­ter Gail Shea an­nounced the clo­sure of Cana­dian ports to Green­land and the Faroe Is­lands un­til they stop ex­ceed­ing shrimp al­lo­ca­tions set by the North­west At­lantic Fisheries Or­ga­ni­za­tion, a move she said was nec­es­sary to pro­tect shrimp stocks.

“ We have acted in good faith for sev­eral years to try to re­solve this is­sue, to no avail,” Shea said. “Our gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to do what­ever is nec­es­sary, un­der the law, to pro­tect Cana­dian fish­er­men and the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­dus­try.”

But Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs said un­less ef­forts are made to pre­vent over­fish­ing in the first place, those ships are just go­ing to take their catches - and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing rev­enue - else­where.

“ Those peo­ple don’t feel they’re do­ing any­thing wrong. Their coun­tries say it’s le­gal what they’re do­ing,” said Coombs. “ So they’re go­ing to con­tinue fish­ing. So it’s not like we’re stop­ping the fish­ing. We’re not stop­ping noth­ing. What we’re do­ing is stop­ping them com­ing in to port, Bay Roberts more than Har­bour Grace. But when they come in, it’s fuel that they get from our lo­cal fuel peo­ple, West­ern Petroleum; they buy food from the Pow­ell’s su­per­mar­ket, the Do­min­ions and Sobey’s. They visit our re­tail stores and go to our malls.”

About 80 peo­ple work part-time at Moor­frost, which is op­er­ated by Bay Roberts com­pany Har­bour In­ter­na­tional, and Coombs fig­ures 18 peo­ple from Har­bour Grace work in Bay Roberts un­load­ing and ser­vic­ing fish­ing ves­sels, and de­pend on the work to earn stamps for em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance.

“It was only the other week I was talk­ing to a gen­tle­man here from Har­bour Grace ... and we were talk­ing about the econ­omy, and he was fight­ing and try­ing hard to get his stamps. He re­lies on th­ese boats to come in.”

Coombs said it would be one thing if the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s move stopped over­fish­ing, but mem­ber coun­tries can ob­ject to NAFO quo­tas and set their own, so what the ves­sels from the Faroe Is­lands and Green­land are do­ing isn’t il­le­gal.

“All it’s done is make a state­ment. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment made a state­ment that they’re not go­ing to come into shore. They’re go­ing to go some­where else,” he said. “ They’ll find some­where else to go, and they’ll end up stay­ing there.”

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