Pro­test­ers picket fed­eral fish­eries of­fice in St. John’s in sup­port of hunger striker

Truro Daily News - - ATLANTIC / LIFESTYLES -

About three dozen pro­test­ers went to the fed­eral fish­eries of­fice in St. John’s, N.L., on Thurs­day to sup­port a celebrity fish­er­man on a hunger strike.

Linda Gil­lett, the mother of hunger striker Richard Gil­lett, said the pro­test­ers in­clude fish­er­men and other sup­port­ers of her son.

Richard Gil­lett has been on a hunger strike since last Thurs­day, de­mand­ing a meet­ing in per­son or via tele­con­fer­ence with the fed­eral fish­eries min­is­ter over quota cuts to shrimp and crab.

His mother said Gil­lett is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the protest, though he is walk­ing very slowly and be­com­ing weak due to his lack of nour­ish­ment.

“As his mother, I’m get­ting pretty wor­ried about him right now. I don’t know if he’s go­ing last too many more days,” she said.

“But he’s de­ter­mined he’s go­ing to un­til they come across with his de­mands or we’ll have to call the am­bu­lance and take him off.”

Gil­lett is known for his three sea­sons on the re­al­ity show “Cold Wa­ter Cow­boys” and is vice-pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Sea Har­vesters of New­found­land and Labrador (FISH-NL).

The fish­er­man has ac­cused Ot­tawa of dire mis­man­age­ment of stocks rang­ing from crab to capelin.

In ad­di­tion to the tele­con­fer­ence call with fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Dominic LeBlanc, Gil­lett is seek­ing an in­de­pen­dent review of sci­ence and man­age­ment for all pro­vin­cial fish stocks.

He also wants a review of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers union, rep­re­sent­ing har­vesters, and the fed­eral De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans.

Gil­lett said he de­cided to do some­thing dras­tic last week af­ter LeBlanc re­fused to meet with him and FISH-NL pres­i­dent Ryan Cleary as they vis­ited Ot­tawa.

In an emailed state­ment, Kevin An­der­son, re­gional di­rec­tor gen­eral for Fish­eries and Oceans Canada, has said he un­der­stands it’s a dif­fi­cult time and the de­part­ment is will­ing to lis­ten.

“It is of course con­cern­ing when any­one takes a course of ac­tion such as the one Mr. Gil­lett is pur­su­ing, and we share the pub­lic’s con­cern for his health.”

An­der­son said sci­en­tific stock as­sess­ments are shared pub­licly and that fish har­vesters are con­sulted.

CP PHOTO

Richard Gil­lett, vice-pres­i­dent of the Fed­er­a­tion Of In­de­pen­dent Sea Har­vesters of New­found­land and Labrador, has been on a hunger strike, drink­ing only wa­ter, and liv­ing in a tent out­side of the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans of­fices since April 13. Gil­lett would like a meet­ing with the Fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter to dis­cuss quota cuts for fish har­vesters.

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