Talks ongoing with OCI over quota expiry: N.L. fisheries minister
Crocker says former government’s deal with company for Fortune had ‘no teeth’
Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker says the province has been talking with the federal government and Ocean Choice International (OCI) about a quota agreement that is due to expire at the end of the month.
NDP MHA Lorraine Michael raised the agreement in the House of Assembly on Dec. 6, seeking answers on government’s future plans for the quotas.
The nine-year agreement was announced in December 2007, Michael said, with one of its aims to ensure the former Fishery Products International ground fish quotas would be landed and processed in this province.
“As recently as last Monday I was in Ottawa. I met with the federal minister of fisheries. It’s an issue that we have ongoing discussions going with the Government of Canada and OCI at this time,” Crocker responded.
Michael also brought up a commitment OCI made to the provincial government in 2012 to provide a minimum of 110 fulltime jobs for at least five years at its facility in Fortune following the closure of the fish plant in Marystown.
Crocker pointed out that deal had been made while the Progressive Conservatives were in power, and not the present Liberal government.
“That agreement has never lived up to its full potential,” Crocker said. “One of the reasons that agreement has never lived up to its full potential is because the previous administration never put any teeth in the agreement. So there was never any way that government could enforce the agreement that was brought in to the OCI Fortune situation.”
Crocker repeated it was the past government who signed off on the agreements in 2007 and 2012 when pressed by Michael on whether the Liberals deemed the company to have met its obligations to Fortune.
Crocker acknowledged the 2012 deal still has one year remaining.
“We’re going to explore every opportunity to ensure maximum employment for the people of Fortune,” he said.
During the exchange, Crocker said he has met with OCI several times since becoming fisheries minister about a year ago and would be joining Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley for a meeting with plant workers in Fortune this past Friday.
Fisheries Minister Steve Crocker was planning to join Burin-Grand Bank MHA Carol Anne Haley for a meeting with plant workers in Fortune this past Friday.