Crab pots. — Telegram file photo
A review of a crab processing regulation governing snow crab caught in NAFO area 2J off the coast of Labrador recommends the regulation be maintained.
A news release notes the regulation was established 1993 and provides for fish plants located in the region to maximize the supply of snow crab — to operate efficiently and to derive maximum economic benefit for residents of Labrador.
The review was conducted by Eric Dunne Consulting Limited on behalf of the provincial government. It was requested by fishing industry participants.
“The review was mandated to explore the current regulation and assess the effectiveness and implications on harvesters, processors, plant workers and other stakeholders in the Labrador region of the province,” said Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley.
“The regulation provides enormous benefits to the people of Labrador. It promotes industry stability and economic viability. Most importantly, it optimizes employment for the region and undoubtedly adds to the overall stability of the province’s fishing industry.”
L’Anse au Clair Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones applauded the recommendation of the review.
“After seeing crab plants in Black Tickle and St. Lewis both close in the past year, this policy is very important to the sustainability of the plants operated in the region by the Labrador Fisherman’s Union Shrimp Company,” said Jones. “Having this policy reversed would have been extremely detrimental and devastating to the crab fishery on the Labrador Coast.”
In 1993, Labrador communities were concerned that Island-based processors were planning to bring crab caught in NAFO area 2J (adjacent to Labrador coast) to the Island for processing. In response to this concern, the provincial government placed a restriction on all licenced crab processors stating that “all crab buyers and licence holders buying crab landed in 2J by vessels fishing in 2J must transport the raw material to a licenced crab processing facility situated in 2J for processing.” This did not prevent vessels from landing 2J crab on the Island.
In 2000, the provincial government issued a new condition of licence to all snow crab processors in the province. The “2J Crab Directive” was intended to ensure a stable supply of raw material for Labrador-based snow crab plants and to protect employment opportunities at snow crab plants in coastal Labrador, including the newly established crab plant at Black Tickle.
Jones said the 2J Crab Directive was implemented in 2000 by the Liberal administration to ensure the viability of crab plants operating in coastal Labrador that provided employment opportunities for many residents of the region. The directive came under fire from some harvesters who wanted it removed, she said, claiming it impeded them from getting maximum value for their product.
Dalley said the Report on the Review of the Limitation on 2J Crab concludes that the 2J crab regulation has a sound basis in law and is well within the province’s constitutional power to maintain. It also concludes the regulation is based on valid, accepted and announced fishery policy objectives.
The report also notes that the current regulation is widely supported by industry participants and community groups. Supporters of the regulation claim that the overall positive effects outweigh the benefits of removing it and the regulation is still needed to continue providing benefits to communities adjacent to 2J.
The recommendations suggested by the consultant and the terms of reference of the report are contained in the Executive Summary, which is available online at www.fishaq.gov.nl.ca/publications/index.html.
“The 2J crab regulation will ensure, in part, that the remaining crab plants in Mary’s Harbour and Cartwright have full access to adequate raw material,” said Dalley. “The report and related consultations found that the vast majority of harvesters and processors are fully in favour of maintaining this regulation. A very small number of individuals noted their concerns during the consultations. Our government will work with processors and harvesters throughout Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure the fishing industry’s viability and sustainability. We will continue to ensure our residents receive the maximum economic benefit from this valuable resource.”