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WIN! Newfoundland rejects OCI requests for exemptions to export unprocessed fish

The Canadian Press reports, “Newfoundland and Labrador has refused to allow one of its largest seafood firms to ship unprocessed groundfish to Asia, saying it wants more jobs and benefits to remain in the province. Ocean Choice International has said it wants to ship the majority of its groundfish catch straight to the overseas buyers, saying the Far Eastern markets want less processed product. But Fisheries Minister Darin King said Thursday he wasn’t able to reach a fair deal with the company.”

The CBC further explains, “In December, OCI sought permission to export 75 per cent of its yellowtail flounder catch, without any processing done on land. In return, the company pleged to process the remainder of its yellowtail quota — a total of seven million pounds — in Fortune, doubling the workforce there to 110 and making the operation year-round. OCI also asked for a continued exemption on redfish. The government previously rejected OCI’s request for permanent exemptions, but said it would consider temporary ones. That answer came Thursday, when Fisheries Minister Darin King said no.”

On December 23, 2011, 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.

On January 3, 2012, Kavanagh was on CBC Newfoundland television news raising concerns about Ocean Choice International.

And on January 11, Kavanagh wrote in The Telegram, “The decision to deny OCI a permanent exemption was the only right decision for Minister King to make to make, but I intend to wait to see how all of this plays out before I place palms beneath his feet. …Let’s hope all of this is not an elaborate political ruse to garner expected public favour, only to ultimately end with the granting of a reasonable facsimile. In the life of a company like OCI, a 15-year exemption sounds pretty long-term to me, and may have been the ultimate prize anyway.”