Exporting yellowtail quota not an option: minister

James
James McLeod
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

In the wake of the closure of the Marystown fish plant, Fisheries Minister Darin King has dismissed the notion the fish once processed there will all just be shipped out of the province unprocessed.

Darin King

BY JAMES MCLEOD

Transcontinental Media

In the wake of the closure of the Marystown fish plant, Fisheries Minister Darin King has dismissed the notion the fish once processed there will all just be shipped out of the province unprocessed.

Beyond that, Mr. King suggested he’s just going to wait and see what the company, Ocean Choice International (OCI), comes to him with.

According to an independent audit done on behalf of the provincial government, the Marystown fish plant lost about $10 million processing yellowtail flounder in the past three years.

The audit concluded if OCI shifted operations to its Fortune fish plant, it would still end up losing $800,000 per year.

Only by shipping out the entire quota whole, could the company make around $100,000.

Mr. King indicated he’s hoping to see some sort of proposal from OCI on the Fortune option, which would involve shipping out some fish whole, and processing the rest within the province.

Typically, the smallest fish are exported for processing elsewhere, while the larger fish are processed in Newfoundland.

“In their proposal, they’re going to have to indicate to us how they intend to move forward with processing jobs and the resulting benefits onshore.

“I’m not saying ‘no exemptions’ because I recognize that there has to be an economic benefit to the company. I can’t force them to process in Newfoundland and Labrador if it’s going to be at a loss. It’ll eventually force them out of business and shut the industry down.”

Ocean Choice CEO Martin Sullivan could not be reached for comment.

“In their proposal, they’re going to have to indicate to us how they intend to move forward with processing jobs and the resulting benefits onshore.” – Darin King

But Jim Bennett, the Liberal fisheries critic, had a different answer – leave the fish in the sea.

“If we insist that it be processed locally, then they’ll have to wait to let it grow to make it big enough to be viable to be processed. Let them grow and process them all here. That’s the maximum benefit for the people.”

Mr. Bennett said some of the fish being caught are less than half the full adult size of yellowtail. What’s more, he said because the quota is based on tonnage, harvesters are catching twice as many undersized fish to kill the quota, which could have the potential to decimate the species.

Mr. King noted it’s the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans that sets quotas, and their science is suggesting that the yellowtail population is stable.

“The yellowtail stock in particular is in steady shape and, as a matter of fact, the quota could be increased if they wanted to.

“I guess I would question, like a lot of things Mr. Bennett puts out, where he’s getting his advice and who’s giving him his information. He seems to make some flippant statements off the cuff without any substantiation whatsoever.”

NDP critic Christopher Mitchelmore said the failure of OCI in Marystown suggests maybe the government should steer the plant away from the corporate model.

“You have to look at, could a better model be in place? Another form could be set up, such as a co-operative.”

St. John’s Telegram

Organizations: OCI, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments