Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wild Fishery Processing Concerns In Newfoundland

In what has to be unprecedented stand for a Newfoundland fisheries Minister, Tom Rideout said that Fishery Products International is being investigated for illegally shipping whole unprocessed flounder out of the Province.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government plans to charge the company for sending yellowtail flounder to China for processing, the fisheries minister said Tuesday.

The company didn't obtain the required exemption under the Fish Inspection Act before shipping unprocessed fish out of the province, said Tom Rideout.

Speaking at a rally of Burin fish plant workers, Rideout donned an FFAW cap and said “They broke the law..and they will be charged. We are not going to put up with it.” FPI takes the legal charges very seriously, and the company promised a response. Russ Carrigan, an FPI spokesman, said the company is angered by the minister’s statements.
Companies can get in serious trouble when they run afoul of the law in a volatile political situation. A proven illegal act could weaken FPI’s hand in negotiating with both the federal and provincial authorities concerning processing plant operations in the province.

Plant workers and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy are angry, and are trying to keep jobs at the plants.

"That fish belongs to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not to a bunch of shareholders that operates under the Chinese flag," said McCurdy.

CBC News Story Link

My Thoughts: Fish processing jobs are important in a Province that has already been hard hit economically due to large scale fishery closures. Many families depend on work within those plants as their near sole source of annual income, much of which is only seasonal employment. Since the fishery closures, the out of province migration of people has increased at a high rate. With many families moving to other parts of the country to seek work. Thus it's not hard to see why people become angery when raw fish products are shipped elsewhere for processing.

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