DFO has an obli­ga­tion to fish­ers

The Packet (Clarenville) - - EDITORIAL -

The fish­ery in New­found­land and Labrador is in tur­moil and I wish to in­form the pub­lic as to the rea­sons why.

I am not tak­ing sides with FISHNL vs. the FFAW — this is a dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent mat­ter that in­volves the right as to who rep­re­sents fish­ers in col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. This is a mat­ter of pro­vin­cial juris­dic­tion that has noth­ing to do with fish­eries man­age­ment and DFO — a fed­eral govern­ment re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Ocean is deny­ing the fish­ers their right to be con­sulted, and DFO has del­e­gated its re­spon­si­bil­ity to the FFAW. The FFAW is a union con­sti­tuted to rep­re­sent fish­ers and plant work­ers for the pur­pose of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. DFO and the min­is­ter are not ful­fill­ing their man­date with re­spect to con­sult­ing the fish­ers and manag­ing the fish­ery in a trans­par­ent and open pub­lic man­ner. This is not the way the fish­ery is man­aged in any other prov­ince of Canada.

I know from my vast ex­pe­ri­ence in this in­dus­try how the in­dus­try is struc­tured. As past vice-chair­man of the Fish­eries Re­source Con­ser­va­tion Coun­cil (FRCC), we had a man­date from the min­is­ter to con­sult widely in At­lantic Canada on is­sues re­lated to re­source con­ser­va­tion.

The FRCC went to great lengths to con­sult broadly with stake­hold­ers and the pub­lic. The FFAW was very op­posed to open pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion be­cause it sought to con­trol the fish­ery and re­source man­age­ment de­ci­sions. Po­lit­i­cally they have as­sumed the role but it is not serv­ing the fish­ers, nor the pub­lic in N.L. that DFO is not ful­fill­ing its man­date.

For ex­am­ple, each of the in­di­vid­ual fleets in Nova Sco­tia is con­sulted di­rectly by DFO for each species such as lob­ster, ground­fish, large pelag­ics, etc. In N.L., DFO does not con­sult fish­ers, it con­sults only the FFAW. This is wrong, and fish­ers and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives are be­ing de­nied their rights as li­cence hold­ers. They should not have to beat down doors and go on hunger strikes to be rec­og­nized and con­sulted by DFO.

Gabe Gre­gory

Por­tu­gal Cove-St. Philips

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