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Province, union outraged over halibut decision

The provincial government has joined in the shouts of outrage by people in the province’s fishing industry at a federal government decision Thursday that appears to take halibut quota away from Newfoundland and Labrador fishermen and give it to harvesters in the Maritime provinces.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced Thursday that the total allowable catch (TAC) for Atlantic halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO divisions 4RST) is set at 1036.8 tonnes this season.

A DFO news release stated: “The sharing formula stabilized in 2013 will be used to distribute the first 864 t of quota, and the remaining 172.8 t will be shared equally between the eight regional inshore fixed gear fleets currently involved in the directed Atlantic halibut fishery in 4RST.”

The province’s Fisheries Minister Vaughn Granter, however, says that instead of adhering to an established allocation formula, the sharing of the halibut quota increase equally amongst the inshore fixed-gear fleets means the Newfoundland and Labrador fleet operating out of the west coast will receive approximately 21 tonnes of the increase instead of the 50 tonnes it should receive based on the established sharing arrangement.

“It is totally unacceptable that the federal minister (Gail Shea) has ignored the established sharing arrangement for Gulf halibut quotas and continues to erode our province’s share,” Granter said.

“This is strictly a political decision, in an election year, to provide for a disproportionate increase in halibut allocation to her home province of Prince Edward Island.”

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers’-Unifor union President Keith Sullivan described the announcement as “disgraceful”.

“It’s a desperate attempt by the Conservatives to maintain their federal seats in the Maritime Provinces, at the cost to the economic sustainability of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Conservatives hold no seats,” Sullivan said.

He said the reduction in the share of halibut to Newfoundland and Labrador is an attack on the viability of enterprises that are most in need.




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