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FFAW proposes buyout for 3Ps fishers

Union asks feds and province for $13 million to retire about 100 enterprises    


Published on July 31, 2017

NAFO Subdivision 3Ps is located along the province’s south coast.

©DFO

With sharp declines in the commercial crab and cod fisheries in Placentia Bay, in fishing zone 3Ps, over the past few years, the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union says some harvesters might like to retire.

Last October, the union submitted a proposal to the provincial and federal governments for funding to retire fishing licenses in that region.

According to briefing documents for the provincial fisheries minister, the FFAW proposal submitted Oct. 18 in 2016 said the overall program target is to retire 110 enterprises, 90 percent of which will be under 40 ft. enterprises.

The cost estimated, and budget proposed by FFAW, for the program would be just over $13 million.

Keith Sullivan, President of the FFAW, told The Packet last week the proposal is for the provincial government to fund 30 percent of the cost, with Ottawa supplying the rest.

Sullivan says the provincial government supports the idea; they’re just waiting on the federal government to sign on.

“Very early on Minister (Steve) Crocker (provincial fisheries minister) said they would support this and now it’s really for the federal government to come on board,” said Sullivan.

“I think they understand this is a good proposal; it makes sense . . . but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans doesn’t have a funding mechanism for it. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of getting the funding mechanism squared away.”

This won't be the first time the federal and provincial governments have funded a licence retirement program.

Sullivan noted there was a similar program for harvesters in Fortune Bay and on the West Coast, and 20 percent of fishing licences were retired.

The result, he says, is that the harvesters who stayed, who acquired some of the quotas from the retired licences, have been doing much better.

“They have more product to get and (this year) better prices for lobsters.

“So that was successful; we’ve seen the best years they’ve ever had on the West coast in recent years, and I think a lot of it had to do with that program.”

In Placentia Bay, he says, the past few years, fishers have been having a “terrible time”, due to declines in crab and cod.

“Opportunities have been slim and don’t look good in the near future,” he said.

Sullivan says the proposed program would be available to harvesters from both the under-40 and under-60 fleets.

He assured that any quotas retired through a licence buyout would then be made available to the harvesters who were left.

“The quotas retired would stay within the fleet sector,” he said.

According to Sullivan, the majority of harvesters are in favour of a licence buyout and retirement program.

He added the program would be completely voluntary, with individual harvesters deciding their options.

“This has been talked about at community meetings and fishery meetings all over Placentia Bay.

“As far as I can tell, there’s 100 per cent support for this among the harvesters in Placentia Bay,” said Sullivan.