ALBERTON – The president of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association is crediting the efforts of more than 50 organizations for helping to convince the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to reaffirm its backing of the owner-operation and fleet separation policies.
“Let me be absolutely clear,” Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield announced in a news release on Friday, “the fleet separation and owner-operator policies in Atlantic Canada will remain intact.”
Concern grew rampant in recent months that the minister would allow corporations to buy up licenses and take control of the fishing industry.
Ashfield said he was displeased an angered “by some of the inaccuracies that have surfaced over the past several months suggesting that the owner-operator and fleet separation policies would be eliminated."
He insists that is not the case.
“We will continue to work with, advocate and deliver for fishermen to make sure the way we operate is helping them do business to address the challenges they face every day,” he said.
But PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan said Friday the minister could have spared the east coast’s inshore fleet a lot of anxiety had he made this declaration three months ago.
“He let us hang in the air there. The whole inshore fishery in Atlantic Canada was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it didn’t.”
While McGeoghegan said the industry can now breathe easier because of the minister’s announcement, it should not be come complacent. “That’s one thing about corporate Canada is they never sleep,” he said. “The fishery was on their radar, no question about it.”
Craig Avery, president of the Western Gulf Fishermen’s Association, said the industry certainly supports changes to the century-old Fisheries Act, but was dead opposed allowing corporations to take control.
“Fishermen spoke. Industry spoke and, I think, basically, the minister listened,” Avery said.