Nfld. & Labrador

Another battle brewing in northern shrimp fishery

A proposal to resolve the controversial Last In, First Out (LIFO) shrimp fishing policy has lit a new fire under some harvesters and communities in Labrador.

Proposed quota cut seen as risk to 100 fishermen and processing plant in Charlottetown

Concerned fishers and plant workers meet in Charlottetown, Labrador to discuss the possible loss of shrimp quotas. (Twitter: @LisaVDempster)

A proposal to resolve the controversial Last In, First Out (LIFO) shrimp fishing policy has lit a new fire under some harvesters and communities in Labrador.

People living south of Cartwright say part of the proposal would destroy their livlihood and undermine a processing plant in Charlottetown, Labrador.

At issue is a recommendation by an advisory panel to the federal minister of fisheries and oceans to cut the shrimp quota in Area 5, just north of the zone where LIFO activity is centered, by 3,400 tonnes over three years. 

"The panel is recommending to the minister to take that 3,400 [tonnes] away from us and share it up among three different groups — the aboriginal, the offshore and the adjacent fishers and what they are calling the adjacent fishers is basically the 65-foot boats, shrimp boats from Newfoundland," said Mervin Layden, who fishes out of Forteau.

Layden said the recommendation came as a surprise.

"That wasn't LIFO's mandate, to restructure the fishery," he told CBC Radio's The Broadcast. "That just came out of nowhere."

Fish harvesters in southern Labrador say they didn't even know the quota in their zone was on the table as part of the LIFO discussions. (CBC)

Layden said there are about 100 fishermen from Cartwright to L'Anse au Clair who depend on the 3,400-tonne quota, which is managed by the Labrador Fish Union Shrimp Company.

"We have the plant in Charlottetown. We are in the process of buying a new $59-million boat. Having this pulled out from under you changes everything," he said.

Towns pressuring federal minister

"If they cut the quota down, it's not going to be enough. It's going to be too low for anybody to get their working hours," said Charlottetown mayor Fred Goudie, one of about 100 people who turned out for a public meeting in the town Monday night.

"If the plant happened to close it would be devastating," for harversters, plant and wharf workers and local businesses, he said.

Goudie told Labrador Morning that the MHA for the area, Lisa Dempster, and Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of fisheries Steve Crocker are both pressuring Ottawa to ignore the proposal for Area 5.

A decision is expected before a July 7 meeting of the northern shrimp advisory committee in Montreal.

In the meantime, Layden wants the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union to speak out on the issue. 

"The union should have pounced on this, but they didn't," he said. "And if they're not going public on it, they're not supporting us."

With files from Labrador Morning