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NEWS: Nfld. rejects OCI’s request for a permanent exemption to export unprocessed fish

On January 6, the Newfoundland and Labrador government issued a media release stating, “The Honourable Darin King, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, confirmed today that the Provincial Government will not approve permanent exemptions to provincial minimum processing requirements for redfish or yellowtail as requested by Ocean Choice International (OCI). …’In response to OCI’s request for a permanent exemption to minimum processing requirements for redfish and yellowtail, I am confirming today that this request has been denied,’ said Minister King. ‘This type of exemption would be unprecedented. What their request means is that they want no minimum processing requirements for the future. I have decided this request cannot be entertained. There will be no permanent exemption to redfish or yellowtail.’”

Unfortunately, Minister King does add, “While some level of multi-year exemption may be considered, a permanent exemption would not be in the province’s best interest.”

This decision by the provincial government comes after two high-profile media interventions by the Council of Canadians.

On December 23, the St. John’s Telegram reported, “The Council of Canadians is urging the Newfoundland and Labrador government to reject a plan from Ocean Choice International, which would see only 25 per cent of the total catch of redfish and flatfish processed in the company’s plant in Fortune, and the rest sold whole to markets in Europe and Asia.” That news article quoted Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter activist Ken Kavanagh, our Charlottetown-based vice-chairperson Leo Broderick, and chairperson Maude Barlow. The article can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12946.

And then on January 3, Kavanagh was on CBC Newfoundland television news raising concerns about Ocean Choice International.

In terms of further background, as we noted in a December 14 campaign blog – Earlier this month, Ocean Choice International – in their words, “a proud Atlantic Canadian company” – announced that 410 people would be losing their jobs because it was closing down two seafood processing plants in Marystown and Port Union, Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, CBC reports, “Ocean Choice International is seeking permission from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to export unprocessed fish in return (for creating 110 full-time jobs onshore at the company’s plant in Fortune, plus 150 jobs at sea). The plan would see one quarter of OCI’s yellowtail quota processed there, with the remainder shipped overseas without being processed on land. The provincial government is considering the request.” The Canadian Press notes, “Except where exemptions apply, Ocean Choice is (currently) required to land fish in the province and then follow minimum processing regulations along with restrictions on fish exports.” That blog can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12830.