Paul Davis raising questions about sale of Quin-Sea Fisheries

What will be the implications of the sale of Quin-Sea Fisheries to a foreign owned company? The PC Opposition in Newfoundland and Labrador wants to know.

CEO of Royal Greenland says sale 'won't mean anything' for Quin-Sea workers, harvesters

PC Leader Paul Davis is raising concerns about the pending sale of Quin-Sea Fisheries, one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest seafood processing companies. (CBC)

Opposition Leader Paul Davis is raising questions about the pending sale of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest seafood companies to a firm wholly owned by the Government of Greenland.

It was revealed last month that a company called Royal Greenland has reached an agreement to purchase Quin-Sea Fisheries Ltd.

Old Perlican has a rich fishing heritage, with a plant that's been operated by Quin-Sea for 25 years. (Town of Old Perlican)

Quin-Sea operates a half-dozen plants in the province, processing roughly 11,000 metric tonnes of seafood annually.

Financial terms of the sale have not been released, and the deal is now being considered by the province's Fish Processing Licensing Board, but ultimate approval rests with the new Liberal government.

Hundreds of workers involved

In a news release issued on New Year's Eve, PC leader and former premier Paul Davis said he has written the licensing board, urging it to consider a number of questions, including the possibility that a foreign company may gain control of Canadian seafood quotas.

The PCs have also raised concerns about the future of Quin-Sea's processing capacity in the province, and the roughly 700 seasonal workers employed in those plants.

With Canada close to finalizing a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union known as CETA, Davis is also concerned that it may open the door for Royal Greenland to process locally harvested seafood outside of the province.

Currently, such activity is protected by minimum processing requirements.

"We believe both the board and the government ought to open up this discussion and answer peoples' questions so there is clarity before the final decision is made," said Davis.

'Won't mean anything'

Quin-Sea's largest operation is in Old Perlican, Trinity Bay, where 400-plus workers process crab and shrimp.

It also has operations in Cupids, Cape Broyle, Long Cove and Conche.

Davis wants to know if Royal Greenland will make a formal commitment to keep these plants open and continue to process landings in the province, regardless of market conditions.

"Does the business plan provided by Royal Greenland … give an indication that local jobs will continue to be sustained at the current levels?" Davis asked in the news release.

Royal Greenland is owned by the Greenlandic self-rule government, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Royal Greenland is owned by the Greenlandic self-rule government. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. (Royal Greenland)

It employs roughly 2,000 people at nearly 40 onshore processing factories in Greenland, and markets its products in Europe and Asia.

In an interview last month with CBC News, Royal Greenland CEO Mikael Thinghuus was asked how a change of ownership might impact processing operations in this province.

"It won't mean anything. We want to work with only well-run companies," Thunguus responses.

"From what we have learned, Quin-Sea Fisheries is extremely well run. So we're not going to pretend we can run it any better."

He said the goal is to improve the company's position in the marketplace, not change the way it is operated.

"This, I'm sure, will be good not just for Quin-Sea Fisheries, but the people who work there and the fishermen who supply the factories," he added.

Foreign influence in the fishery

Meanwhile, Davis said there is a long-standing policy tradition of insulating the Canadian fishery from foreign control.

He said permitting this sale would give a foreign company greater influence in the Canadian fishery.

If Royal Greenland were to inherit trust agreements relating to harvesting quotas, for example, Davis said that influence would increase.

"Quin-Sea may currently have trust agreements with those who hold harvesting licences and, through these agreements, Quin-Sea may exert effective control of the respective harvesting quotas," Davis wrote.

"If such trust agreements are in place and this change of operator application is allowed, a non-Canadian company may control Canadian quotas."

The PCs want the licensing board to hold a public meeting to ensure the implications of the pending sale are subjected to a full and open discussion.


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