May 1st, 2021
Federal NDP Critic Secures Committee Study into Frozen-at-Sea Spot Prawn Regulations
Port Alberni – The federal NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Gord Johns has secured a study at the Fisheries and Oceans Committee on the impacts of regulations affecting frozen-at-sea spot prawns.
Earlier this year, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans re-interpreted a regulation that all catches must be “readily determined” for inspection, and that prawns frozen in seawater are not “readily determined” under this re-interpretation. This re-interpretation would have far-reaching implications and could threaten the viability of the industry entirely.
Johns introduced a motion at the committee last week and emphasized the urgency with which the re-interpretation needed to be examined.
“I think it’s important that we have DFO explain and answer questions related to this new re-interpretation, and prawn fishers can share how this decision impacts them,” said Johns. “It came as a surprise to all of us, and we need some transparency on this decision and a way forward so that prawn fishers can confidently continue to earn a living.”
The study is expected to begin on Monday May 3rd and continue towards the end of the month, with recommendations being put forward before the House of Commons rises for the summer.
“The opportunity to have this matter fully examined for how it relates to the practical application of Fishery Regulations and what the implications of the reinterpretation are to individual harvesters is critical,” said Emily Orr, lead representative of the Prawn Industry Caucus.
According to Orr, removing the ability of harvesters to sell frozen prawn tails to the domestic market would create a monopolized export-only product, devastate the viability of harvesters, and take away the opportunity of the Canadian public to buy prawns directly from harvesters
“Commercial harvesters and all Canadians deserve a reasonable and fair resolution to this unfounded problem, and one that maintains the basic foundation of preserving catch for local sale and consumption. Livelihoods hang in the balance.”
NDP MP Rachel Blaney (North Island-Powell River) has sponsored a petition on the House of Commons website calling for Minister Bernadette Jordan to develop a process that would allow the continued practice of freezing-at-sea spot prawns.