NDP: Conservatives Set to Abandon Traditional Inshore Fishery

OTTAWA - On Monday, Conservatives defeated a New Democrat motion that reaffirms support for the owner-operator and fleet separation policies that are crucial to the survival of the traditional inshore fishery in Atlantic Canada.

“I spoke with many fishermen in Atlantic Canada,” said Fin Donnelly, the New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic. “They are angry that the conservative government has not properly consulted them regarding its plan to change these policies. They feel that the Harper Conservatives are failing in their duty to stand up for Canadian fishermen.”

The fleet-separation and owner operator policies play a critical role in preserving the independence of individual fishermen in relation to big corporate interests. Over the past years, these policies have kept corporate interests from purchasing and consolidating fishing licenses, which would have resulted in job loss and caused irreparable damage to coastal communities and their traditional way of life.

“The inshore fishermen are the backbone of the east coast fishery industry,” said deputy critic Philip Toone (Gaspésie--Îles-de-la-Madeleine). “The independent fleet is the largest private sector employer in Atlantic Canada and it must be protected. Removing these policies will hurt the economy and eliminate many quality jobs.”

“The elimination of these policies could be as significative a blow to rural Newfoundland and Labrador as the shutdown of the fisheries almost 20 years ago,” concluded Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South Mount Pearl). “The Harper Conservatives must stop trying to sell off what’s left of our fishery to big business, and commit to protect our traditional inshore fishery.”