Fisheries Minister Gail Shea mum on shrimp quota cuts

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is declining interviews on a controversial cut to inshore shrimp quotas.

Province's rep in federal cabinet, Rob Moore, also declines comment on inshore reductions

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is declining interviews on a controversial cut to inshore shrimp quotas.

Newfoundland and Labrador`s representative in the federal cabinet, ACOA Minister and Nova Scotia MP Rob Moore is doing the same.

Earlier this month, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a 9,000-tonne cut from the inshore fishery for northern shrimp quotas, while only 1,000 was cut from the offshore trawl fleet.

The Fish Food and Allied Workers union has led the charge against the reductions, noting the inshore share has been cut almost in half since 2007, while offshore quotas have remained virtually the same.

"This is punishing the people and communities who are most adjacent to the resource," said FFAW president Earle McCurdy. "Why should corporate interests trump adjacency?"

Last week, politicians of all stripes in the province formed a committee that will lobby Ottawa for an explanation of the rationale behind the cuts, and seek a reversal.

And on Tuesday, McCurdy led a delegation of shrimp harvesters to Confederation Building where they discussed the implications of the cuts on rural communities with Premier Tom Marshall.

"He was clearly very interested in what was going on," McCurdy said of Marshall after the meeting. "He asked a lot of questions and participated fully in the discussion and even suggested some ideas for followup and so on. And I'm certainly optimistic that flowing from that will be a joint effort because so much is at stake in the province."

ACOA Minister and New Brunswick MP Rob Moore - Newfoundland and Labrador's representative in the federal cabinet - is also refusing comment on reductions to inshore shrimp quotas. (CBC)
But if federal officials are aware or concerned about the widespread, across-party-lines discontent, they weren't letting on, or making an effort to temper it.

Shea officially declined a request to spell out the quota rationale on CBC Radio`s Fisheries Broadcast. Instead, a spokeswoman said the fisheries minister, "has explained her position in the House of Commons and also in a letter in The Telegram."

She also noted that Sylvie Lapointe, the director of fisheries management at DFO, did do an interview on the Fisheries Broadcast when the decision was made, adding there is nothing the department can add on the topic.