March 12th, 2021
DFO decision hurts rural and Indigenous communities: NDP
OTTAWA – Yesterday, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) changes a regulation to make the sale of spot prawns frozen-at-sea illegal. New Democrat MPs are echoing concerns from coastal communities, businesses, harvesters and local residents that this decision will devastate those relying on this industry for their livelihoods.
“This isn’t the right decision for fish harvesters, restaurant owners, chefs, fishmongers, grocery stores or consumers in rural communities up and down our coast. People are afraid they’ll lose their businesses because of this change,” said NDP critic for Fisheries Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni). “It’s already been a really tough year for people financially. BC harvesters and our rural communities need support right now. Decisions like this just show how the government is failing them. This is government overreach at its best and it won’t help improve conservation. Instead, it will penalize coastal fishers that are hurting following a disastrous prawn season last year. New Democrats will fight to reverse it.”
New Democrats are among countless others who have pointed out that spot prawns have been frozen at sea in seawater for over 50 years. The federal government’s decision to change the regulation seems unnecessary given there were no significant violations of catch guidelines for decades.
“A Powell River constituent and the chair of the BC Prawn Caucus brought this issue to my attention and, since then, my office has been flooded with emails and calls. People are worried this arbitrary regulation will hurt their businesses and their communities. Small scale Indigenous harvesters and First Nations families will be especially affected,” said NDP MP Rachel Blaney (North Island –Powell River). “The Liberal’s keep saying that they want to advance reconciliation but then they bring in policies like this that make it hard for Indigenous people to earn a living. People living in Indigenous and rural communities deserve the government’s support and they haven’t been getting it.”
“Instead of taking a proactive, innovative approach to improving food security, this decision by DFO will actually make things worse. What kind of policy is that?” asked NDP MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford). “People want to support local food producers by enjoying the seafood caught right off our shores and the federal government is actively making that more difficult. It’s especially insulting to all those affected that there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for the change. New Democrats will fight for harvesters and their communities to get rid of this new regulation.”