Nfld. & Labrador

Fish harvesters protest outside DFO offices in N.L.

Angry fishermen held demonstrations in several locations in Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday to protest deep cuts to inshore shrimp quotas.
FFAW members protest quota cuts for inshore shrimp fishermen at DFO 5:09

Angry fishermen held several demonstrations across Newfoundland and Labrador Wednesday to protest deep cuts to inshore shrimp quotas.

DFO announced last Friday that the inshore allocation was dropping this season by more than 10,000 tonnes, while the offshore quota will be reduced by 3,000 tonnes. 

DFO said the reductions are needed to conserve shrimp stocks.

Outside the federal fisheries office in Corner Brook, union representative Jason Spingle said the cuts must be fought.

"We are here this morning to obviously make a statement to the powers that be that what they've done is totally unacceptable to us. Totally unacceptable and we are not going to take it lying down at all," said Spingle, a staff representative with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union. 

The shrimp fishery is the main source of income for many of the fishermen and many said they are committed to doing whatever it takes to get the decision reversed.
FFAW staff representative Jason Spingle says harvesters are not happy with how DFO has reduced inshore shrimp quotas for 2014. (CBC)

Bill Broderick, the inshore sector director with the FFAW, said the quota slash will hurt. 

"Inshore is going to lose about 22 million pounds and the offshore will lose about two million pounds, I think that's the figures that's around," said Broderick.  

The FFAW said the cut will affect about 1,500 fishermen, nearly all of whom live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

"If they lose their enterprises, they loses the onshore jobs that are there ... so everybody in those communities suffers," said Broderick.

Ren Genge from Anchor Point said harvesters are barely getting by.

"We are only surviving day to day, barely making it as it is. Last year's prices, price not going to do it this time. No point in having a price for a product you can't catch," Genge said. 

"What would happen to you if someone took 30 per cent of your income from you? It's not only 30 per cent of your income, it's 30 per cent of what you've got to do to run your enterprise — and if you haven't got the money to run your enterprise, where do you go?"

DFO has to 'do something'

Melvin Stark of Gander said he and his wife recently spent more than $1 million on a new vessel.

He said quota cuts in shrimp and other species will cost them $400,000 in sales this year.

"Well somebody's got to do something or we're going to do something. Somebody's got to open their eyes in all this, that's my opinion  and I'd say everyone here is behind me," said Stark.

Meanwhile, Liberal MHA Chris Mitchelmore said the cuts will impact hundreds.

"It will have significant impacts to the incomes of fishers in the province — and it will also mean that some of the 10 fish processing plants, shrimp plants in the province, will ultimately close," Mitchelmore said.