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  • Writer's picturerryancleary

Fishery co-op plans on hold after province freezes processing licences

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, June 13th, 2024 – The Fisheries Protective Co-operative has put organizing efforts on hold following a decision by the provincial government to institute a freeze on the issuance of new fish processing licences.


“We hit a wall that we didn’t see coming,” says organizer Ryan Cleary. “The plan is to move forward when the freeze is eventually lifted,” added Merv Wiseman, another key co-op organizer.


The FPC was preparing an application to process groundfish at a seal-processing facility in Fleur de Lys on the Baie Verte Peninsula when an official with provincial Fisheries revealed this week that a licence freeze is in effect.


It was hoped that production of northern cod at the Fleur de Lys plant could start as early as this season to coincide with an expected increase in the 2024 harvest level.


According to the government official, Minster Elvis Loveless wrote the Fish Processing Licensing Board on May 28th to request a hold on applications for new processing licences, or the addition of new species to existing licences until a “review of issues pertaining to the fishery is completed.”


That review — which Premier Andrew Furey said in March would delve into corporate concentration and foreign ownership — is expected to begin this fall.


“We look forward to giving our input as part of the government review, along with harvesters and industry leaders,” Wiseman said.


The expectation of a review didn’t stop the province from announcing a $15-million harvester enterprise loan program days before the Minister requested the licence freeze (and the Baie Verte-Green Bay by-election was held), or, in early June, increasing the processing capacity by three million pounds for St. Mary’s Bay Fisheries.


The freeze does not apply to outside buyer licences.


The Baie Verte Peninsula was one of a half dozen regions/municipalities in the province that responded to an FPC call in early May for interest in a fish processing facility.


There is currently no fish processing facility on the Baie Verte Peninsula, where DFO estimates 11.6 million pounds of product (including 2.7 million pounds of cod) were landed in 2023.


The 2024 northern cod harvest level has yet to be announced, but the FFAW and offshore representatives have requested a doubling of last year’s maximum harvest of 12,999-tonnes.


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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 (fpcnl.ca) for inshore enterprise owners. The opinions expressed in this blog are his own. Contact him at fpc-nl@outlook.com or call/text 709 682 4862.

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