GRAND BANK, NL – Pete Soucy, one of the hopefuls seeking the Liberal nomination for the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, says with the proposed cut to the total allowable catch of Arctic surf clams, the federal government is looking to do right by one group while wronging another.
Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced that a fourth license for Arctic surf clams will be part of the 2018 fishery in September.
Twenty-five per cent of the existing 38,000-tonne quota will be will be allocated to the new entrant, which must be an Indigenous entry based in Atlantic Canada or Quebec.
Up until this point, Nova Scotia-based Clearwater Seafoods has held all three licenses for Arctic surf clams, processing the species at the company’s plant in Grand Bank, located in the federal riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity.
“The proposal as it stands suggests that a right can be fashioned from a wrong here,” Soucy told the Southern Gazette in a phone conversation Oct. 22.
“I don’t think it’s right for Clearwater and Grand Bank to lose any quota – its (clearly) a success story, and it’s been hard fought. They’ve invested a lot of time and money to make it work and some people down there yesterday said they were told they might lose 17-weeks’ or so of work next year as a consequence.”
Soucy added while it is an admirable goal to support Indigenous groups, that support should not come at the expense of others.
“There are other proposals – I’m given to understand that perhaps there is resource available in other jurisdictions that would allow for a new license without compromising the Clearwater operation in Grand Bank,” he said.
Soucy said taking hours away from the people of the town is not the answer. “I think what (government) is trying to do it fine and good, but I think it is a bit much to expect it all to come from something that is built and sustaining a town—a region in a province that needs the work and has earned the success.”