Newfoundland Lobster Harvesters Continue Protest Against Government Inaction

June 18, 2009, 11:33 AM EST

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As Contact went to press harvesters from Newfoundland's west coast were demonstrating at the offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in Port Au Choix, St. Anthony and Corner Brook. The harvesters are protesting the lack of government aid for the devastated fish industry.

"This year has been disastrous for harvesters in a variety of fisheries across the province and this industry and the people will not survive if we don't get help which is desperately needed from our provincial and federal governments," said CAW/FFAW Secretary-Treasurer David Decker.

CAW/FFAW President McCurdy and other representatives outlined continuing concerns after the latest protest on June 9th where a group of harvesters representing all regions of Newfoundland occupied the regional office of federal minster Peter Mckay. As a result of the earlier protest and other actions by harvesters, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced $65 million in aid would be given to the lobster fishermen in the four Atlantic Provinces and Quebec over the next five years.

McCurdy told the St. John's Telegram that the amount of money provided did not address the seriousness of the situation and that the government must do more to help. "If you look at dividing that announcement by five provinces and by five years, it just doesn't come close."

Throughout Atlantic Canada this year, lobster prices have been the lowest in decades (below $3 per pound). The travesty left harvesters with uncertainty and doubt about whether they would be able to survive the season.

Leonard LeBlanc a lobster fisherman in Cheticamp, N.S. told the Canadian Press that, "What we were requesting was in the range of $150 million to $200 million and she's offering $65 million. We need a hell of a lot more money than that."

Conducting demonstrations at the offices of the DFO is only the latest installment of the fight back from harvesters. Earlier this season, harvesters voiced their concerns by tying up their boats for four days.

The CAW/FFAW represents 2,500 lobster harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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