FISH-NL files op­po­si­tion to ma­rine pro­tected area off south coast

Fish-NL says FFAW no longer cham­pi­ons its mem­bers or the fish­ing in­dus­try

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

LAURENTIAN CHAN­NEL, NL — The Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Sea Har­vesters of New­found­land and Labrador (FISH-NL) is op­pos­ing pro­posed reg­u­la­tions that would gov­ern a ma­rine pro­tected area (MPA) in the Laurentian Chan­nel off the prov­ince’s south coast.

In a news re­lease last week, the group said it has reg­is­tered its of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion to the reg­u­la­tions and also con­demned the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW-Uni­for) union for its ac­cep­tance of them.

“The pro­posed Laurentian Chan­nel MPA is an in­sult to in­shore fish har­vesters and a cruel joke to sci­en­tists,” FISHNL pres­i­dent Ryan Cleary said.

“The fact that the pro­posal has been signed off on by the FFAW-Uni­for is yet an­other ex­am­ple of a union that no longer cham­pi­ons its mem­bers or the fish­ing in­dus­try and has be­come a lackie of Ot­tawa and the oil and gas in­dus­try.”

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment launched a 30-day con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod over pro­posed reg­u­la­tions to gov­ern the Laurentian Chan­nel MPA on June 28, the re­lease notes.

At more than 12,000 square kilo­me­tres, the MPA would be the largest in the coun­try and the third pro­tected area in the prov­ince.

The Laurentian Chan­nel area is said to be home to two at-risk species — leatherback tur­tles and north­ern wolff­ish — and is de­scribed as a “crit­i­cal feed­ing area and mi­gra­tion route into and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” the FISH-NL re­lease states.

The reg­u­la­tions would ban com­mer­cial and recre­ational fish­ing in the MPA. Oil in­dus­try and gas ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing seis­mic and drilling, would be al­lowed, how­ever.

“How can Ot­tawa keep a straight face in ban­ning fish­ing, but al­low­ing the oil in­dus­try to have its way?” Cleary said, adding 15 of Canada’s lead­ing ma­rine sci­en­tists have also lodged their ob­jec­tion.

The FISH-NL re­lease states fed­eral gov­ern­ment anal­y­sis of the reg­u­la­tions to gov­ern the Laurentian Chan­nel MPA specif­i­cally men­tions how the FFAW-Uni­for is good with them.

FISH-NL is also tak­ing is­sue with the con­sul­ta­tion process and has rec­om­mended that Ot­tawa hold an­other se­ries of pub­lic meet­ings in com­mu­ni­ties ad­ja­cent to the Laurentian Chan­nel MPA.

As well, the group reg­is­tered con­cerns over the cur­rent bound­aries of the pro­posed MPA, which are lo­cated en­tirely in the prov­ince’s fish­ing zones off the is­land’s south coast – 3Ps and 3Pn – but skip over Nova Sco­tia’s fish­ing zones, as well as wa­ters off the French is­lands of St. Pierre-Miquelon.

“Why are New­found­land and Labrador in­shore har­vesters the only ones im­pacted by the pro­posed MPA? The Laurentian Chan­nel MPA may have been born out of en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship but it’s been mu­tated by money and pol­i­tics,” Cleary said.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DFO

DFO/NAFO Sub­di­vi­sion 3PS is lo­cated along the prov­ince’s south coast.

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