FFAW payback: FISH-NL supporters say union pressured DFO to close cod fishery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, Dec. 12th, 2017

Well-know Grand Bank fisherman Wayne Meade accuses the FFAW-Unifor of being behind a recent federal Fisheries and Oceans decision to shut down the cod fishery in a small area of Fortune Bay because most inshore harvesters who were fishing there are FISH-NL supporters.

“This was not a DFO decision because DFO doesn’t run the fishery, and hasn’t since the moratorium — the FFAW calls the shots,” says Meade, who’s publicly endorsed FISH-NL since it was organized in the fall of 2016. “Eighty to 90 per cent of the fishermen who were fishing that cod support FISH-NL, and it’s the FFAW getting back at us.”

On Friday, Dec. 8th, DFO issued a notice to harvesters that the directed gill net cod fishery in a small area near Pass Island, Fortune Bay would close at noon the next day, Dec. 9th. DFO said it considered the closure a short-term measure to address “quality concerns.”

Meade and inshore harvesters like him — who spent thousands of dollars gearing up for the fishery, and on licence fees/observer coverage — say they were told those quality concerns involve the discarding or dumping of fish.

“I’ve been on the water for 40 years and I’ve never seen a fishery shut down because of the dumping of fish,” says Meade, adding there were rumours that some smaller fishing boats had been unable to retrieve their gill nets for several days because of severe weather, and the cod had spoiled.

Further, Meade said the dumping of halibut hasn’t been an issue for DFO since 2008, when licence conditions began stating that the fish had to be dumped back to sea, dead or alive.

DFO said it considered the shut down of the cod fishery near Pass Island a short-term measure, with plans to reevaluate the decision in 7-10 days. However, that would mean the fishery wouldn’t reopen until just before Christmas, when harvesters will want to stay home with their families, meaning the fishery won’t realistically reopen before the New Year.

Inshore harvesters who fish off the province’s south coast in fishing zone 3Ps have had an incredibly hard year due to quota cuts, and were depending on income from the cod fishery.

FISH-NL wrote DFO late last week requesting that the decision to close the directed fishery for cod using gill nets in the vicinity of Pass Island, Fortune Bay, be reversed immediately.

DFO has yet to respond.

Contact Ryan Cleary: 682 4862