Thousands of Jobs at Risk in Northern Shrimp Fishery, FFAW Claims

The Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-Unifor)  is stating that thousands of harvesting and processing jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador may be lost if the current fisheries management policies for northern shrimp are maintained.

The FFAW is providing, what it calls, further details on the impact of sharp declines in the northern shrimp stock as outlined in Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) stock status report.

“The implications of the stock status report, if they are confirmed, will be challenging if DFO’s quota allocation policies do not change,” said Keith Sullivan, President of the FFAW.

The facts show the scope of the challenge:

  • In 2009, the inshore fleet had a quota of 131 million pounds in shrimp fishing area (SFA) 6; for 2016, if LIFO is still applied, the quota will be reduced to approximately 13 million pounds.
  • A 13 million pound quota cannot support the 10 fish plants that currently exist. This quota can only support 2 plants, at most. It is likely that 8 plants will have to close.
  • There will be thousands of jobs lost in rural NL in the harvesting and processing sectors.
  • Harvesters and processing companies invested tens of millions of dollars in the shrimp fishery. With a 13 million pound quota, this investment will be lost.
  • Dozens of towns and communities depend on the shrimp fishery as their economic hub. This will now be removed.“The economy of our rural communities, including Fogo Island, has been built on the fishery,” said Phil Barnes, General Manager of the Fogo Island Co-op. “There’s just so much uncertainty in the shrimp fishery at the moment that we have to prepare for the worst.”

“Our town was fortunate enough to escape the worst of the moratorium because we had a shrimp plant and crab plant,” stated Mayor Bruce Button of Old Perlican. “If the stock status update figures are confirmed, we know our shrimp plant will be in jeopardy, as will the shrimp plant in our neighboring town of Bay de Verde. That’s 400 workers, that’s a big chunk of our municipal revenue. This is a crisis.”

“It is important for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to know that this crisis is primarily the result of choices made by the federal government over the past decade,” asserts Sullivan. “The federal government has chosen to protect the offshore factory-freezer boats at the expense of our towns and communities. Allowing factory-freezer boats to go and fish during important spawning seasons undermines the sustainability of the northern shrimp stock. Just this morning, there were six large vessels off the coast of Fogo Island.”

“We are calling on the federal government to do the right thing,” Sullivan concluded. “Immediately halt all shrimp fishing in SFA 6.”

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