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  • Writer's picturerryancleary

Indigenous harvesters call for independent review of Nunatsiavut government shrimp allocations; conflict of interest questions raised

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, May 15th, 2024 A group of seven indigenous inshore harvesters from northern Labrador say the Nunatsiavut government has denied them a 2024 share of northern shrimp quota in favour of a factory-freezer trawler, and are calling for an independent investigation.


“This is an injustice that goes against the spirit of our communal licence to preserve the culture and economy of the North Coast,” says Lisa Blandford, an Indigenous harvester on behalf the group.


In past years the Nunatsiavut government has distributed its annual federal allocation of shrimp off northern Labrador to more than 20 inshore harvesters or “designates.”


This year, however, Blandford said seven inshore designates have been told they will not be awarded northern shrimp.


Instead, she said for the first time ever in 2024 quota has been allocated to an Indigenous designate with a factory-freezer trawler. Blandford said the decision will displace as many as 40 inshore harvesters along the north Labrador coast.


Blandford and the other inshore harvesters also alleges that the offshore quota designate is backed by interests in the offshore sector and is a former fisheries minister in the Nunatsiavut government, and the current fisheries minister is his brother-in-law.


The harvesters say Nunatsiavut changed regulations so that shrimp caught off Labrador does not have to be processed in Labrador, which opened the door to a factory-freezer doing the work at sea.


“There needs to be accountability that can only come through an independent investigation,” said Blandford. “Communal licences are meant to train and employ our people to actually manage and fish the allocations. That doesn’t happen with a factory-freezer.”


DFO is expected to open the shrimp fishery off northern Labrador in fishing zones 4 and 5 any day.


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