September 1, 2017
For Immediate Release

Newly Announced Atlantic Fisheries Fund Shortchanges NL, Raises Questions

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The federal Liberals quietly issued a news release yesterday on an Atlantic Fisheries Fund which will be shared with our Maritime neighbours and spread over seven years, leaving too little to help the struggling industry with the investment it needs now. Many details remain unanswered and the Minister of Fisheries is nowhere to be seen or heard.”

“If the Ball government were so proud of the fund, the Premier and the Fisheries Minister would be announcing details and timelines instead of letting Ottawa slip out the news quietly in a press release,” said Parsons. “The Liberals are sheepish because they understand – just as everyone else does – that this is a far cry from what we were promised and should expect in a fisheries fund.”

Parsons said, “Ottawa’s press release raises more questions than it answers. Why will there be ‘weeks and months’ of engagement? How much longer will we have to wait to receive the investment funding our industry needs? How will the funding be broken down? What portion will be reserved for Newfoundland and Labrador, and how will that stack up to the $400 million we were promised? What will the investment timeline be, and how much funding will flow this year? Has Ottawa added up seven years’ worth of regular fisheries investments to bulk up the fund and make it appear to be more substantive than it actually is?”

“Prime Minister Trudeau, as the Liberal leader before the 2015 election, promised the $400 million Fisheries Fund exclusively to Newfoundland and Labrador in recognition of the fact that we are the only province that gave up minimum processing requirements (MPRs) ‎under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA. Those MPRs had value to our province and despite a public commitment from the Prime Minister acknowledging that, the Liberal government again did not stand up for our province’s best interest and settled for less. The Maritime Premiers lobbied for part of that funding, and Premier Ball wasn’t effective in making our province’s case.”

Parsons said, “The disappointing news on the Atlantic Fisheries Fund comes on the heels of the loss of the Atlantic Regional Ocean Frontier Institute headquarters to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the decentralization of Ottawa’s Small Craft Harbours program to New Brunswick rather than Newfoundland and Labrador even though no province has a longer coastline or more small craft harbours than we do.”

“The Ball government continues to demonstrate that they are ineffective. They’re prepared to settle for whatever crumbs that the federal Liberals offer,” said Parsons. “They say they’re working behind the scenes, but obviously not effectively enough to secure the benefits and jobs we need. And when others gain at our expense, they don’t speak out publicly, but they defend those losses and criticize us for demanding that they fight harder,” said Parsons.

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca