Inshore shrimp fishermen raise a ruckus outside MP's office
The chant at a rally of shrimp fishermen in Grand Falls-Windsor Wednesday may have sounded unusual to those who don't follow fisheries issues closely, but demonstrators say it underscores a crisis that could wipe out their livelihood.
"We're adjacent to the shrimp, we're adjacent to the shrimp," chanted members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Independent Fish Harvesters' Association as they staged a demonstration outside the office of Liberal MP Scott Simms.
The fishermen are outraged by new quota cuts for the inshore shrimp fishery off the northeast coast of Newfoundland.
The new quota for a fishing zone known as Area 6 will be just 10,400 tonnes, less than a quarter of the 2015 quota of 48,196 tonnes. Last year's quota had been set at just under 28,000 tonnes.
Terry Ryan, who fishes from La Scie, said the principle of adjacency — the concept that those who live closest to a fishing resource should have priority access — is paramount.
"We're not asking for the wheel to be reinvented here. This has been done [before]. Precedent has been set," he said, referring to a decision made in neighbouring Area 7 that cut out fishermen from his area.
Ryan said the demonstrators know they are "not making any friends" with fishermen who live in other fishing zones.
"We're down to survival," he said.
Simms was not in his office during Wednesday's demonstration.
Other protests planned against quota cuts
Members of the Independent Fish Harvesters' Association said they are planning other activities to protest this year's quota allocations.
Lindsey Small said he and others are worried about the role of factory-freezer trawlers which are allowed to fish shrimp offshore year-round.
"As I speak today, you got six to 10 factory-freezer trawlers in Area 6 fishing shrimp, and we've just taken a 63 per cent cut," said Small.
"There's something wrong with the picture."