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FISH-NL questions byelection candidates on fishery issues

FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary.
FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary. - The Telegram

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) has released answers that federal candidates in the upcoming federal byelection in the district of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity gave to questions concerning the fishery.

Liberal candidate Churence Rogers and Conservative candidate Mike Windsor supplied responses, while New Democrat Tyler Downey failed to do so, FISH-NL stated in a news release.

“The fishery is critical to the future of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, and the responses from Mr. Rogers and Mr. Windsor will give inshore fish harvesters, and the rural communities where they live, an indication of where the politicians and parties stand,” FISH-NL president Ryan Cleary said.

“Constituents will ultimately decide where to mark their X, and hopefully this survey will help with their decision.”

FISH-NL questions and responses are as follows:

• Do you agree with the federal government’s decision to open the south coast (fishing zone 3Ps) cod fishery to offshore draggers?

• Do you agree the offshore sector should be removed from the 3Ps cod fishery when the quota falls below 10,000 tonnes?

• Do you agree with the decision of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to expropriate 25 per cent of the 2018 Arctic surf clam quota and reassign to a yet-to-be-determined Indigenous-led operation?

• What is your stand on open pen aquaculture such as the Grieg proposal for Placentia Bay verses closed-containment, land-based fish farming?

• Do you plan to make it your priority to ensure DFO establishes comprehensive rebuilding plans, with timelines, for northern cod and all other critically stressed species?

Churence Rogers:

“I fully recognize the cultural and economic importance of the cod stock to fishers in our communities and throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am committed to ensuring that our fisheries, including cod, are viable and sustainable for future generations and that any management decisions are based on science.

While I recognize that aquaculture is the fastest growing food-production system in the world, I am committed to working with the Liberal government to continue improving Canada’s already strong regulatory system to ensure that our aquaculture industry is safe, healthy, and protects the sustainable use of our marine resources.

The Liberal government has also committed to investing $197 million over five years to improve fisheries and aquaculture science. This will inform the development of regulations and contribute to improvements in environmental performance. And this past April, the government announced that they will be conducting full stock assessments of the Northern cod stock for the next five years, beginning in winter 2018. This represents a total investment of approximately $14 million in science to help us better understand our Northern cod stocks — and that is an important investment for our community.

Aquaculture provides well-paying, year-round jobs to thousands of Canadians, many of whom live right here in our riding. I am looking forward to working closely with Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team to continue supporting local jobs and industry in a way that is environmentally and economically sustainable.”

Mike Windsor:

“I believe that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should listen to fishermen and their organizations when making these decisions. A moratorium should be considered if it will allow for a greater rebuilding of the stock and contribute to the viability of our coastal communities. Given the significant reductions in the total allowable catch for 3PS cod in recent years, it is extremely important that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans work closely with fishers and their organizations when deciding how best to distribute quota. While the government has a responsibility to ensure a fair distribution of the resource, I personally support priority access for the principles of adjacency and historic participation, which in most instances means priority access to the less mobile under 65-foot inshore sector.

I disagree with the decision of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to bring a new entrant into the surf clam fishery without increasing the quota. This poor decision will result in a 25 per cent reduction in employment at the Grand Bank fish plant. The previous Conservative government increased the total allowable catch of surf clams in 2015 to permit a new entrant in the fishery. Unfortunately, the Liberals reversed that decision and are now putting jobs in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity at risk by adding a new entrant without increasing the quota. I support new entrants to the surf clam fish when the quota increases. In the meantime, I will fight for the protection of local jobs.

The Province is responsible for approving aquaculture sites. Meanwhile, I believe that some level of environmental assessment is required as Placentia Bay is environmentally sensitive. Land-based aquaculture systems are currently not commercially viable. There have been many studies to support this view. An independent study commissioned by the Government of Nova Scotia called into question whether or not Atlantic salmon could be farmed in land-based closed containment systems.

I would make it a priority that the government implement comprehensive rebuilding plans, with timelines, for northern cod and all other critically stressed species. The sustainability of all fish stocks is very important to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and particularly so to inshore harvesters who support their communities."

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