Premium Seafoods Group's groundfish facility. (Photo Credit: Premium Seafoods)
Premium Seafoods allowed to hire foreign fish trawler
Friday, October 18, 2013, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
Premium Seafoods' request to have a foreign vessel catch its redfish quota has recently been approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
This is a one-off exception that has been granted with reservations, as some conditions have to be met, reports the Cape Breton Post.
According to Stefan Leslie, DFO spokesperson, there are several provisions that guide the department that allow foreign ships to be hired to catch the Canadian quota.
Leslie explained the temporary licence is only valid until the end of March under conditions that include having a Canadian observer onboard and at the dockside to monitor that the fish is landed in Arichat and that from 10 to 14 of the 18-person crew of the ship are Canadians.
The granted permit implies that Premium Seafoods will be able to hire Icelandic fish trawler Venus to catch and process 1,550 tonnes of the redfish quota.
According to the company's CEO, Edgar Samson, the firm failed to find a Canadian boat to do the task.
"We did our best," he remarked. "We had no one that could do that type of capacity, a vessel that landed the way it had to be landed".
For his part, Robert Chisholm, Federal NDP fisheries critic, pointed out that despite his concerns about foreign vessels catching Canadian quota, he is aware that this is an out-of-the-ordinary event and that the conditions but he would ensure the restrictions regarding the agreement are being implemented.
However, not everybody has welcomed the news.
"It sets a dangerous precedent," expressed Sterling Belliveau, Nova Scotia's outgoing Fisheries Minister, "I'm amazed. When I look at rural Nova Scotia I see boats tied up because they have no access to resource," he added, according to CBC News.
Samson said the firm's goal is to have as many Canadian nationals working and Premium Seafoods' employees working during the redfish fishing season.
And he explained the exceptional license has only been granted as a consequence of the fire that destroyed the company's facilities not long ago.
The fire devastated the seafood processing plant, located in Isle Madame, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, last August. Before the accident, the facilities were used to process groundfish. With around 70 employees, it was the most important source of employment of the community.
By Gabriela Raffaele