Nfld. & Labrador

Change Islands family says herring licence lost due to paperwork error

Be sure to fill out your paperwork correctly — or risk losing your herring licence like Lloyd White of Change Islands, who lost his last year.

DFO will not comment on the case, citing privacy concerns

The White family believes the DFO is being unfair and did not provide a reason for the loss of Lloyd White's license. (Submitted by Cora Scott)

Lloyd White is warning others in the commercial fishing industry after he lost his herring licence in 2018 and had a review of his licence reinstatement revoked by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Be sure to fill out your paperwork correctly, said the Change Islands man, who blames his situation on a clerical error.

Heather White, Lloyd's wife, incorrectly filled out the paperwork online in 2017 when applying and paying for her husband's licences for the upcoming season. Lloyd has been a commercial fisherman for the last 40 years.

She paid, in full, for the licences she had correctly filled out — but Heather had simply missed a check-box in the licences section for herring and the mistake wasn't picked up until she went through applications for licences for this season and the option for the fish was missing. 

Earlier this month the couple learned the review of licence reinstatement had been denied by a regional licence review committee under DFO. On Feb. 15, the couple received a letter in the mail that their claim was denied, months after the initial meeting, Heather said.

But Lloyd shouldn't be punished with the loss of his licence for a simple clerical mistake, the Whites said.

"I said to the panel, 'Don't punish my husband because of my error.' I made an error in not paying for that licence and he shouldn't be punished for that," Heather told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning of the meeting she and her husband had with the review panel via teleconference in St. John's. 

"Mistakes happen."

Bread and butter

Fortunately for the Whites, herring isn't an essential catch for Lloyd. Crab season is where he makes his money, and herring is only a bonus if there's time in the season or if there are even any around to catch.

Even still, after 15 years of having a licence for the fish, that option is no longer available.

Lloyd White had his herring license revoked due to a clerical error. (Nadia Jannif/CBC)

"[It was] a little bit of a slap in the face. I thought the conference call went pretty well, and I was pretty confident that I was going to have the licence returned," Lloyd said. 

"But that wasn't the case, and they never gave a reason as to why I was denied, which is a little bit odd." 

Appeal filed, cautionary tale

The Whites have appealed DFO's decision. While they wait, Heather wants others in the industry to know just how easily they could lose a source of income based on an error.

While herring isn't a key source of his fishing income, Lloyd White says he's had a license for 15 years and would like to have it reinstated. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

"I would imagine there's a lot of wives, partners, parents and that that assist their husbands or whatever in doing out for the licences and doing the paperwork. And there's so much paperwork to do in today's fishery that it's easy to make a mistake sometimes," she said.

"It's easy to look over something unintentionally, so I think there needs to be a little bit more compassion and empathy regarding that."

When contacted for comment, DFO said, "Fisheries and Oceans Canada will not comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns. However, in most cases fish harvesters have an opportunity to appeal licensing matters."

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