‘If we don’t fight … who will?’
the others will return to port on the other boat.
“Once you have the herring tucked up and loaded, the biggest part of the work is done. Then it’s back to the wharf to unload.”
The regulation about ‘sufficient crew’, and the vague answer from the DFO official in Clarenville, did not sit well with Melanie Marsh.
Fishing is a business, she says.
As wife of a fisherman she handles all the paperwork and management of the fishing business.
She doesn’t fish on the boat; instead she works a full-time, year-round day job in nearby Clarenville.
Nights and weekends she attends to the paperwork of running a fishing business.
“And as far as I’m concerned this rule was DFO dictating to us how to run our business. It would be the same as government telling any other business it had to employ a ‘sufficient’ number of people to run their business,” Marsh told the Packet.
So she was prepared to fight back on this one.
After contacting the Packet on Wednesday, she also contacted the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union and managers further up the chain in DFO.
The Packet also contacted the DFO last Thursday, asking for the rational and purpose behind the licence condition change.
An official from the department was not available to speak on the issue, but after a few phone calls and emails exchanged, a public relations official informed The Packet on Friday morning that new licence conditions for the herring fishery were bring reviewed.
By Friday afternoon, Richard Marsh had his new licence conditions. The rule about “sufficient crew” was deleted.
The Marsh’s are pleased; they can now fish for herring this Fall the same way they fished for herring in the Spring, and make their own decision about the number of crewmembers to use.
For the record, in their reply to The Packet’s request for an explanation for the ‘sufficient crewmembers’ rule, the DFO in St. John’s replied, “The Department introduced a new licence condition in response to industry concerns about a practice known of “barging”, whereby vessels that are not geared up for a fishery retrieve catch from an active enterprise. As a result, participation in the fall herring fishery is restricted to those geared-up for active fishing.
“We recognize that the reference to “sufficient crew” in the licence conditions related to the “barging” issue has caused some confusion. We are working with industry to clarify the requirements and harvesters are receiving amended licence conditions today via the National Online Licensing System.”
The Packet also contacted the FFAW last week, and their response was, “We spoke with DFO and while we will not be commenting on the change, DFO plans to release an explanation on why the condition was put in place.”
Melanie Marsh, meanwhile, is glad that she spoke up on this issue.
She only wishes more fishers would do the same when they come up against regulations that hinder their ability to run an efficient business enterprise.
“This is our livelihood, and if we don’t fight for it then who’s going to?” she said the day after receiving the new licence conditions.