19 December 2013

Province abandons fisheries policy…quietly #nlpoli

Two years.

That’s all it took to destroy the provincial government’s historic fisheries policy that had been built on the highly successful state-controlled model pioneered by such economic powerhouses as the Soviet Union, Albania, and North Korea.

In early December 2011, Ocean Choice International announced the company would shut a couple of fish plants because it couldn’t operate them profitably any more.

The fisheries minister at the time – Darin King – threatened that he would hold up export permits unless the company knuckled under.   It didn’t work. The whole episode frightened all the gang whose political clout depended on keeping things just as they were.

A year later, the provincial government agreed to let OCI ship 75% of its yellowtail flounder landings out of the country for processing. By that time, they had a new fisheries minister to make the announcement.  There have been seven in seven years, incidentally. Under the deal,  the company only had to use 25% of its catch to run a plant in Fortune for five years.  They’ll also process some cod there as well to give 100 people 36 weeks of work a year. 

Interestingly enough, the December 2012 agreement said the OCI plan would start processing yellowtail within six months of the announcement. So much for that.  It took them until December 2013. it will be interesting to see what other details changed.

One of them has to do with provincial cash.  As the people of Newfoundland and Labrador learned on Wednesday,  the provincial government also tossed $300,000 in public money to the company to help with “modernization”.  There’s not a word about the money in the 2012 announcement.

In the meantime, the provincial government also tried to get the federal government to extend an OCI license during the European trade talks.  Funny how these little details seem to get missed in those fancy-schmancy provincial announcements.  Doesn’t matter if it is fisheries policy, as in this case, or energy policy.  The provincial government is not only abandoning its policies, they are neglecting to tell people about it.