Bonavista-Burin-Trinity Liberal MP Churence Rogers says he tried to sway Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc to consider options other than the recent decision he made on Arctic surf clams but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Last September, LeBlanc indicated his intentions to add a new Indigenous entrant from eastern Canada into the Arctic surf clam fishery, transferring 25 per cent of the total allowable catch (TAC) of the species to the new licence holder.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, LeBlanc announced a new licence will be issued to the Five Nations Clam Company, a new entity comprised of one First Nation from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
The move affects people in the MP’s riding as Clearwater Seafoods, prior to LeBlanc’s decision, held the only three licences for the species, covering 100 per cent of the TAC, with a major operation to process the clams at the company’s plant in Grand Bank.
In a news release Friday, Feb. 23, Rogers expressed his disappointment with the decision.
“In the past two months since being elected, I met with the Town of Grand Bank, Clearwater Seafoods, constituents, Indigenous groups, and businesses vying to become the new license holder,” he said.
“My goal was to do whatever I could to keep jobs in Grand Bank and on the Burin Peninsula and minimize any impact this cut would have on the people of the region.
“I presented many options to the minister and was disappointed to hear none of these were selected.”
Rogers says Clearwater’s future direction in the matter is presently unclear. The company still has 75 per cent of the TAC for the species, however, he noted.
Clearwater also has access to other species, he said, including a sea cucumber processing licence. Rogers said DFO recently increased accessibility to that resource.
“I want to assure the people of Grand Bank and the Burin Peninsula that in speaking with the minister, he is fully aware of the concerns within this region regarding this decision,” Rogers said.
“The minister did pledge to look at other species and opportunities for the people on the Burin Peninsula, including reviewing the science, and if the science proves the surf clam quota can be increased at a healthy level and remain viable, he is prepared to increase the annual TAC.”