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