The right approach
Fisheries Minister Darin King took a difficult stand personally last week.
He denied a request from Ocean Choice International for a permanent exemption in the size of redfish and yellowtail flounder it can export to overseas markets.
Tied into the Ocean Choice request was the permanent closure of the Marystown fish plant and reopening of the Fortune plant, creating 110 jobs there through the processing of seven million pounds of fish.
Fortune is in the midst of Mr. King’s Grand Bank District and a community in which he was raised. He has been working with the town council and local union executive since his election as an MHA to reopen the plant, and provide some of the work the facility once offered as the town’s main employer.
OCI’S offer to reopen the plant was simply a trade off of two peninsula towns, trying to soften the blow of losing 240 jobs in Marystown while creating full time positions in Fortune and another 150 jobs at sea on its vessels.
But Mr. King has so far been able to rise above the politics a decision allowing OCI the requested exemptions would bring him in his own district.
It also would fly in the face of the advocacy he and his fellow PC MHA Clyde Jackman (Burin-placentia West) have been espousing for the last number of years of a regional benefit to government support, funding initiatives and services. Essentially, what helps one community on the Burin Peninsula is of benefit to all.
For the time being Mr. King has withstood the OCI lobby to allow it to make money its way, by exporting the people’s resources from our oceans.
A real concern though is the minister’s relenting that he could give temporary exemptions of up to 15 years. It’s been 20 years since the cod moratorium was announced but the fishery has yet to recover. A 15 year export exemption could mean the complete destruction of these two species.
Now it’s time for all stakeholders to get to the table and hammer out solutions to the real issues and concerns plaguing the Newfoundland fishery. There doesn’t have to be another study or commission, just a commitment to act on the recommendations identified by previous studies/reports.
The answers are there. Is the political will?
George Macvicar, Editor/manager