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  • Writer's picturerryancleary

Fishermen/processors walk out of DFO capelin advisory over anti-fishery groups being given seat at table (walk-outs should spread until they're out altogether)

Capelin harvesters/processors walked out Friday of a DFO capelin advisory meeting in Gander after learning that Oceana and Oceans North — environmental/non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) that have taken public stands against the commercial capelin fisheries, and are suspected of being anti-seal hunt — have been given a seat at the main table.

Twillingate fisherman Richard Gillett, owner of the fishing vessel Defiance, was one of the harvesters to walk out of Friday's meeting.

DFO recently upgraded Oceans North and Oceana to full-fledged stakeholder from observer status, meaning representatives can sit at the main table at so-called advisory meetings where recommendations are made to the federal minster on quota levels.

Reps from Oceana/Oceans North have held stakeholder status at other DFO advisory meetings this year, but Richard Gillett was first to complain and mount a protest.

Hats off to Gillett, who's dead on the money.

"These groups have one agenda and that's to shut down the capelin fishery, and they should not be at the table," Richard says.

Indeed, the walk-outs should continue and spread until DFO revokes stakeholder status for the ENGOs at all advisory meetings.

Oceana Canada and Oceans North have advocated publicly for the immediate shutdown of the commercial capelin fisheries.

The groups have Ottawa's ear on commercial fisheries, but no policy on seals, capelin's biggest predator, or foreign overfishing outside 200 miles.

That alone creates suspicion about their motives.

The 12,517 tonnes of capelin harvestered in the province's commercial fishery last year was a drop in the bucket compared to 1.26 million tonnes — DFO's last estimate from 2008 of the annual amount of capelin consumed by harp seals off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.

Oceana has had positive things to say about seals in the past, including that baby harps are "adorable," harbour seals are "the cutest," and grey seals like to play peek-a-boo.

In December 2022, Bob Rangeley, director of science with Oceana Canada, contacted me and confirmed the organization does not have policies on the seal hunt, or foreign overfishing of migratory stocks outside Canadian waters.

Not nearly good enough.

Get 'em off. DFO recently elevated the

Ryan cleary is a former journalist, Member of Parliament, union leader, and long-time inshore fisheries advocate who’s currently helping to organize a co-operative ( for inshore enterprise owners. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own. Contact him at or call/text 709 682 4862. 

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