Nfld. & Labrador

'More questions than there are answers,' FFAW says on scrapped LIFO policy

The controversial "Last In, First Out" policy is gone, but a union president says there are still concerns about what will happen to quotas for inshore fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The controversial "Last In, First Out" policy has been scrapped by Ottawa, but the FFAW says there are still more questions than answers about a new regime. (Robert Bukaty/Associated Press)

While the province's largest fisheries union is praising the federal government's decision to get rid of the controversial "Last In, First Out" (LIFO) policy, questions remain about what will actually happen to the province's industry.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced Wednesday that he would be accepting a recommendation by an independent review panel to abolish the LIFO policy in favour of a proportional share system.

Steve Crocker, Newfoundland and Labrador's fisheries minister, said at a news conference in St. John's Thursday he was happy to see the policy gone after three years of lobbying.

However, Crocker said "there are still a number of wrinkles" and the province needs to see the final quota allocations before it can fully support it.

Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union president Keith Sullivan said there's still no indication what that would mean for the province's industry.

"The first decision to abolish LIFO made a lot of sense — it's what people in communities, harvesters, people all over the province have been looking for," Sullivan said. 

"But without more information about proportional sharing, the viability of the inshore fishery still remains unclear," he said.

FFAW President Keith Sullivan says there are still a lot of questions about what a new proportional share system would mean for inshore fishermen. (CBC)

Sullivan said an interim quota for inshore fishermen has been put in place that matches the offshore corporate fleet.

Those inshore fishers "should get three times as much as the offshore," Sullivan said, adding he intends to get answers.

"We really want to get more information from the minister. Right now there's more questions than there are answers."

Panel meeting Thursday

The northern shrimp advisory panel is meeting Thursday in Montreal, and it has representatives from all sides of the shrimp industry.

We really want to get more information from the minister.- Keith Sullivan

Sullivan added the scrapping of LIFO is obviously good for local fishermen, who said the policy unfairly favoured offshore fleets.

However, the interim quota makes him nervous, and he hopes it doesn't indicate what Ottawa plans to implement permanently.

"There were some positives in the recommendations that were made. They acknowledge that adjacency and values to the communities certainly matter," he said.

"But the fact that they have the interim quotas at the same ratio as the corporate fleet for the inshore, that's concerning. Especially when the amount of interim quota is not even enough for one trip for inshore vessels that supply products to plants."

Inshore shrimp fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador have been calling for the abolition of LIFO. (CBC)

With files from Meghan McCabe and Peter Cowa