Crab on menu at Com­mons com­mit­tee, Byrne says

The Compass - - NEWS - BY ROB AN­TLE

The House of Com­mons fish­eries com­mit­tee will study the East­ern Cana­dian crab in­dus­try, Lib­eral MP Gerry Byrne says, al­though not quite yet.

But Byrne says con­di­tions im­posed by Bloc Que­be­cois and Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of the stand­ing com­mit­tee on fish­eries and oceans could de­lay the study for sev­eral weeks.

“My gut is that the govern­ment has rec­on­ciled it­self that it’s go­ing to hap­pen, it’s just that they will throw up road­blocks and ob­sta­cles along the way,” Byrne said out­side the House of Com­mons last Thurs­day, April 22.

In­dus­try in cri­sis

The New­found­land and Labrador crab in­dus­try is in cri­sis, with pro­ces­sors and har­vesters fail­ing to agree on an ac­cept­able price.

Boats re­main tied up and the en­tire 2010 crab fish­ery is in jeop­ardy.

Byrne, the MP for Hum­ber-St. Bar­beBaie Verte, wants the Com­mons com­mit­tee to look to­wards the Mar­itimes to see if lessons can be learned there.

“ There’s never been a mar­ket shut­down that I am aware of in the Mar­itime crab in­dus­try,” Byrne said.

“ We need to study the Mar­itime sys­tem to find out what it is they are do­ing that ac­tu­ally ap­par­ently al­lows higher prices and an or­derly con­duct of the sale of crab. It can’t be lost on any­one that’s an in­ter­est­ing point.”

Byrne noted that the Mar­itimes does not have sole-source buy­ers and sell­ers, as is the case in New­found­land.

Process not work­ing

A pro­vin­cial govern­ment panel sets a price for crab. But the process has not worked to kick-start the in­dus­try this year.

Byrne cau­tioned that he is not ad­vo­cat­ing the prov­ince adopt a change in sys­tem.

But he said the Mar­itime ex­pe­ri­ence should be stud­ied, as there are no dis­rup­tions there “ like the chaos that we con­sis­tently see in the New­found­land and Labrador re­gion.”

Byrne said the Com­mons com­mit­tee plans to fo­cus on long-term so­lu­tions.

Pos­si­ble wit­nesses in­clude the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union (FFAW), the As­so­ci­a­tion of Seafood Pro­duc­ers ( ASP), fish­er­men and in­de­pen­dent pro­ces­sors, bro­kers and buy­ers and even pro­vin­cial Fish­eries Min­is­ter Clyde Jack­man.

Mean­while, a Lib­eral mo­tion Thurs­day af­ter­noon for an emer­gency de­bate in the House of Com­mons on the East­ern Cana­dian shell­fish in­dus­try was un­suc­cess­ful.

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