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Port au Choix fishers still have concerns after DFO meeting last week

Harvesters set their fishing gear aflame in front of the DFO offices in Port au Choix Tuesday morning.
Harvesters set their fishing gear aflame in front of the DFO offices in Port au Choix Tuesday morning.

HAWKE’S BAY, NL — Seven harvesters from inshore fishing fleets from Sandy Cove to Port Aux Choix met with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officials Friday, April 21.

The meeting at the Torrent River Inn in Hawke’s Bay ran for more than two hours.
In addition to the seven harvesters at the meeting, several more fishers gathered in the parking lot. Members of the RCMP attended to monitor the situation.
Port au Choix harvester Stella Mailman was one of those who met with DFO.
She called the meeting productive and amicable, but said it did now answer all the questions harvesters had and protested April 18 in Port au Choix.
“The big concerns – the buddy up system and adjacency – they can only take that back to the higher-ups and see what we can get done,” Mailman told the Northern Pen after the meeting.
According to Mailman, the office of MP Gudie Hutchings is arranging another meeting.

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There were no plans to host another protest, according to Mailman. She said, while harvesters are patient now, if they don’t get answers eventually, they will be forced to continue taking action.
“There is going to be other protests if something don’t come down,” Mailman said.
Harvesters from the area also say one of the problems is the union that represents them, according to the spokesperson. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) aren’t doing enough to represent their interests, she said.
“Everyone thinks the FFAW is a major problem,” Mailman said. “They are making decisions without input from the fishermen. That’s what we felt here today. What they’re putting forward is not what the fishermen want.”
When it comes to the specific issue of adjacency, she believes the union isn’t doing enough to fight for it.
“If the FFAW was out there representing the fishermen, they would help stop this,” she said. “They would be the ones who would be in Ottawa fighting for us, and they would be the people who would be having those meetings — not the fish harvesters, like we’re doing today. They are representing themselves, not the fish harvesters.”
The harvesters attending the meeting were Rod Cornick, Barry Ploughman, Donald Spence, Joseph Hynes, Dean Offrey, and Mailman. Frank Breen, John Lubar, and Paul Cahill represented DFO. Dwayne Cull was present on behalf of MP Gudie Hutchings.
 

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