20 January 2011

Fisheries agreement delayed again

Did anyone really expect that fisheries minister Clyde Jackman would actually tell the people of the province officially, with a news release that the long-awaited fisheries restructuring agreement would be delayed yet again?

Good because he didn’t.

Instead, Jackman dropped a comment to the Northern Pen, a weekly paper on the province’s Northern Peninsula.

A draft copy of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishing industry MOU has been sent back for fine tuning delaying its release by another “two or three months”.

Speaking to the Pen on Monday, fisheries minister Clyde Jackman confirmed that he had read the 100-page document but it required some tweaking.

And if the rest of Jackman’s comments are any indication there’s no wonder the fishery is in a mess.  The fish minister doesn’t even have a sweet clue about incomes in his own industry:

One thing that really stood out was the difference in incomes for the different parties,” he said.

“In some places you have plant workers earning $10,000 and supplemented by EI while in others, they make multi thousands of dollars.”

The smart-arses can ignore the fact that ten thousand is multi-thousands.  Just note that those sorts of figures can be found readily in a report on the crab industry contained in a report government received back when Trevor Taylor was the fisheries minister.

Meanwhile, the province’s official opposition party did manage to get the story some wider coverage than Jackman may have liked.  A news release the Liberals issued did get picked up by the major media in St. John’s, likely much to Jackman’s chagrin:

“What that really means is that the plan is dead for the next year,” said [fisheries critic Marshall] Dean. “By taking another two to three months to ‘fine tune’ it, Jackman is removing the MOU from any consideration of funding in the next provincial budget, which is expected in March. If there is no funding for the plan in the budget, nothing can happen with the plan until the following year’s budget in 2012. That’s a full six months after this coming fall’s provincial general election. It looks like Minister Jackman has finally found a way to ground the MOU until after the election.”

Given this government’s handling of the MOU – which has now taken four years and gone through three different fisheries ministers – Dean thinks there is no will on the part of the PCs to deal with the fishery at all.

The story also wound up on CBC’s Fisheries Broadcast.

- srbp -


-   Good to the last fish:

At the same time, there are still thousands of people in Newfoundland and Labrador trying to squeeze a very meagre living from processing fish for a few weeks a year and then collecting government hand-outs for the rest.  A report delivered to the current administration when it was still young pointed out that the typical fish plant worker made less than $10,000 a year from labour, picking up another $5,000 in employment insurance premiums.

There are still way too many of them – plants and plant workers – for them all to make a decent living from what fish, and now snails, there is to turn into frozen blocks. The only thing that has changed in the better part of a decade since that report is that the workers are finding it harder and harder to collect enough weeks of work to qualify for the EI.

Tom Rideout meets the Bride of Frankenstein

Up the creek with Jackman and Rideout