18 July 2016

The right decision on shrimp #nlpoli

On the surface, it looks like a classic political compromise.  The federal government caved to political pressure and reallocated the shrimp quota to give more to the inshore sector.  But, they also lowered the shrimp quota by 42%, consist with the reduction in the stock since 2014.

Not surprisingly,  news of the quota reduction brought complaints from the fisheries union.  It remains, even without Earle McCurdy,  one of the most backward and reactionary agencies in the province. We have too many people in the industry chasing a dwindling resource but the fisheries union does not case about the sustainability of the industry.  The fisheries union and its political allies have no interest in reforming the industry into one that is sustainable and profitable for all those involved.

The goal in provincial and federal fisheries policy should be the development of an economically and environmentally sustainable industry. The federal government shifted its policy focus some time ago away from managing fisherman and focussing instead on keeping the resource healthy.  The provincial government hasn't done the same thing.  That needs to change.

Having fewer shrimp to catch will mean that people will have to get out of the industry and plants will close.  In the short term, that will be a political issue. Rather than complain about it, the fisheries union and the provincial government should be thinking about how to some short-term help for people as they move from the fishery to something else.

In the longer run, getting people out of the industry is the right thing to do.  How to move the industry from zombie to life is where provincial fisheries minister Steve Crocker should be turning his attention.  If the fisheries union doesn't follow, let that be their problem.  If things go the way the union wants,  there won't be anyone left alive in it anyway.