FISH-NL files opposition to marine protected area off south coast
Fish-NL says FFAW no longer champions its members or the fishing industry
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.
DFO/NAFO Subdivision 3PS is located along the province’s south coast.