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Liberal nominee Merv Wiseman calls for reversal of Arctic surf clam decision

Merv Wiseman, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, was in St. John’s on July 18 with then-provincial Land Resources minister Steve Crocker and federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay to announce a new risk-assessment project for this province’s farmers. Wiseman spoke with The Telegram about risks increasing due to climate change.
Merv Wiseman. SaltWire Network file photo

One of several hopefuls looking to represent riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity

Merv Wiseman is calling on the federal government to reconsider its decision to add a new Indigenous licence holder for Arctic surf clams.

One of several individuals vying to be the Liberal nominee for the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, he said the move contravenes the party’s own principal of adjacency, the idea that people living closest to a fishery resource should benefit from it.

“This is unprecedented in federal fisheries management,” Wiseman said in a news release issued Wednesday evening.

“Unless there are further unreleased details which would provide a suitable rationale for this, not only does it reject the adjacency framework, but it lacks good economic sense; and it will certainly jeopardise the health of communities in the riding.”

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced a fourth license for Arctic surf clams will be part of the 2018 fishery in September. Twenty-five percent of the existing 38,000-tonne quota will be allocated to the new entrant, which has to be an Indigenous entry based in Atlantic Canada or Quebec.

Up until this point, Nova Scotia-based Clearwater Seafoods has held all three licenses for Arctic surf clams, processing the species at the company’s plant in Grand Bank, which is located in the federal riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity.

Wiseman also called upon the Burin Peninsula’s two MHAs, Carol Anne Haley and Mark Browne, who represent the districts of Burin-Grand Bank and Placentia West-Bellevue, respectively, to publicly express their concern, and challenged his fellow Liberal nominees to speak out against the decision as well.

“In fact, I urge all provincial MPs and MHAS, especially the premier, to write and call the federal minister’s office in a movement of solidarity against this unexpected move,” Wiseman said.

“If there ever was a time to stand together, it is now, because it could very well compromise the survival of at least one, if not two, communities in this riding.”

Wiseman sponsored and championed the adjacency framework at the Liberal Party’s biennale convention in Winnipeg in 2016, the news release noted.

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