Province must take action to build sustainable fisheries

NDP Fisheries and Aquaculture critic Christopher Mitchelmore

NDP Fisheries and Aquaculture critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) says the provincial government should start talking with their federal counterparts to establish a comprehensive plan to improve management of marine stocks, fishing rights and our rural fishing communities’ sustainability.

“The European Union is moving toward a greener economy, as it currently negotiates reforming its Common Fisheries Policy,” says Mitchelmore. “This innovative move will seek to re-build fish stocks, and establish targets to end overfishing and reduce by-catch, wasteful discarding of fish at sea, and the role of middlemen.”

A North Sea trial looked at the ongoing concerns regarding the practice of high-grading – discarding a large percentage of fish caught at sea, so that only those with the highest value will be landed and sold. This happens because of pricing policies and quotas – larger fish are worth more money per pound, but every pound of fish caught counts toward total quotas. In the trial, less valuable fish caught by harvesters were brought to shore, but not credited fully towards a harvester’s full quota, allowing for more fish being landed, but fewer fish in total being caught – potentially resulting in more sustainable fishing practices, with greater industry benefits.

“This was just a pilot project, and full results are not in, but it demonstrates a willingness to explore innovative approaches to the fishery,” said Mitchelmore. “We have been doing all the same things for decades. It is time for our governments to try some different approaches. The provincial government should be encouraging DFO to try this kind of pilot project.”

“The Province must press DFO for policy changes that will benefit fishers, plant workers, processors and all involved in the industry as the fishery is a public resource held by the Crown to benefit the people,” said Mitchelmore.

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