Fish talks in Ottawa tomorrow aimed at protecting North Coast jobs

OTTAWA – Representatives of BC shoreworkers and commercial license holders will be in Ottawa tomorrow to argue for changes to federal legislation that are aimed at keeping fish jobs in Prince Rupert through requirements for local processing and individual license ownership.

“There’s a lot riding on this meeting,” noted Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.  “Made-in-Ottawa policies that allow North Coast fish to be processed in China and Alaska and almost 80% of commercial licenses to be bought up by large corporations are killing our coastal communities.

“These regulations favor big business at the expense of individual boat operators, they move money out instead of into resource communities, and they have led to hundreds of cannery job losses, with another 500 jobs on the chopping block if the Canfisco closure proceeds.”

Cullen, along with NDP fisheries critic Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam), have been pushing the Liberal government to listen to the concerns of North Coast fishers and the communities they sustain since November, when news of the Canfisco cannery closure first surfaced.

Tomorrow afternoon the House of Common’s Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans will hear from witnesses requesting changes to adjacency, a principle that would require fish be processed where it is caught; fleet separation, a policy that prevents processing companies from owning licenses and quota, and; owner-operator: a policy that says that a fishing license or quota must be fished by the owner.

United Fishermen and Allied Workers, the union that represents shore workers on the North Coast, and the City of Prince Rupert are asking the federal government to align its West Coast policies around adjacency, fleet separation and owner-operator with East Coast regulations around these issues.

Fisheries regulations are muti-jurisdictional as the federal government is responsible for conservation and sustainable management of fisheries while processing of fish and seafood falls under provincial jurisdiction.

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 Contact:        Shelley Browne, 250-877-4140; nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca