For Immediate Release:
November 7, 2013
Forest Industry on Great Northern Peninsula Forgotten by Government: Mitchelmore
Independent Member Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) says Government inaction has led to the loss of forestry jobs and economic opportunity on the Great Northern Peninsula.
For years the forest industry has been on life support with the downturn in demand for newsprint, shedding hundreds of jobs on the Peninsula. The current shutdown of Holson Forest Products has made matters worse, as local workers, business and Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm and surrounding communities suffer from economic instability.
“Millions of public dollars was invested under the Forestry Diversification Program to re-build the sawmill, establish a kiln and a 60,000 MT pellet plant in Roddickton’, says Mitchelmore. ‘It is evident from months of unproductivity; there are barriers that must be overcome to provide a product that is in demand to market. It’s time for Government to ensure that public money is protected and work with the company to become fully-operational.”
“This business model is ideal to maintain rural jobs and build sustainable rural economies. Government should not forget the value of the forest industry on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is time to get serious about developing this important industry.”
During a meeting of the Public Accounts in October, Department of Forestry and Agrifood officials stated they were committed on having a fully-functioning pellet plant in Roddickton-Bide Arm. The Minister should re-affirm the words of his officials with an action plan to have pellet production begin at Holson Forest Products within six months.
-30Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North Tel: 1-888-729-6091 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NDP Fisheries and Aquaculture critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North) says the provincial government should start talking with their federal counterparts to establish a comprehensive plan to improve management of marine stocks, fishing rights and our rural fishing communities’ sustainability.
“The European Union is moving toward a greener economy, as it currently negotiates reforming its Common Fisheries Policy,” says Mitchelmore. “This innovative move will seek to re-build fish stocks, and establish targets to end overfishing and reduce by-catch, wasteful discarding of fish at sea, and the role of middlemen.”
A North Sea trial looked at the ongoing concerns regarding the practice of high-grading – discarding a large percentage of fish caught at sea, so that only those with the highest value will be landed and sold. This happens because of pricing policies and quotas – larger fish are worth more money per pound, but every pound of fish caught counts toward total quotas. In the trial, less valuable fish caught by harvesters were brought to shore, but not credited fully towards a harvester’s full quota, allowing for more fish being landed, but fewer fish in total being caught – potentially resulting in more sustainable fishing practices, with greater industry benefits.
“This was just a pilot project, and full results are not in, but it demonstrates a willingness to explore innovative approaches to the fishery,” said Mitchelmore. “We have been doing all the same things for decades. It is time for our governments to try some different approaches. The provincial government should be encouraging DFO to try this kind of pilot project.”
“The Province must press DFO for policy changes that will benefit fishers, plant workers, processors and all involved in the industry as the fishery is a public resource held by the Crown to benefit the people,” said Mitchelmore.
NDP Fisheries Critic Christopher Mitchelmore (The Straits-White Bay North) is demanding the provincial government deal with the decaying former fishplant in Englee before something tragic happens in the Northern Peninsula community.
“The Provincial Government has failed to commit to the clean-up of the abandoned Englee fish plant, for which it is ultimately responsible,” said Mitchelmore. “On January 26, the roof of the structure collapsed. This was nearly eight years after the company that had been operating the plant abandoned it. Community representatives have been calling for the plant’s removal ever since, but government is apparently ignoring them.
“It is obvious to me this Government does not have a plan to deal with crisis situations” says Mitchelmore. “This dangerous situation in Englee could have been prevented and should be a lesson for this Government. Nobody was hurt this time, but there’s no guarantee about what will happen next time a portion of that plant falls down.”
Mitchelmore says the situation in Englee should be raising alarm bells in every community in the province with a fishplant. “What will stop Ocean Choice International, for example, from similarly walking away from communities in which it currently does business – or from plants it has closed?” Mitchelmore asked. “The Province must enact legislation to hold companies accountable, especially fish processers that are benefiting from the people’s resource.
“It is time to give communities control over their resources, entering into a royalty agreement with a processor,” he said. “If Government continues to give away our fishery to irresponsible processors, any town in Newfoundland and Labrador could be facing a crisis similar to the one in Englee.”
- Mitchelmore questions future of Marystown facility (liveruralnl.com)
- Abandoned Englee Fish Plant, Abandoned by Government (liveruralnl.com)
NDP Fisheries critic Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits – White Bay North) says he and his party fully support the commercial seal hunt and he is excited about the potential for the industry as a whole.
“The sealing industry has always been an important aspect of the rural economy and I believe there is still tremendous untapped opportunity,” said Mitchelmore. “Value added business opportunities exist for rural residents, and indeed we already have successful businesses in the industry.”
Mitchelmore stated that when he meets with residents of his district there are ideas for new products but government will need to work with industry stakeholders to help these ideas develop into reality.
“The people I talk to haven’t given up on the sealing industry, and I haven’t given up on the industry. If we work together innovation is possible and good years will lie ahead for sealers and everyone who wants to make a living in the industry,” he said.
Mitchelmore says that while we must continue to work with the federal government to develop new foreign markets, we must also look to developing local markets. “I would really like to see discussions on developing the local markets. Government assistance is needed to help the industry create a plan to build on our humane and sustainable hunt,” he said. “We have to consider all ideas; for example can we reduce regulations for seal buyers in this province which would allow small scale production for untapped niche markets, such as for canned seal meat and bone fertilizers? Can we make it easier for restaurants to feature seal meat?”
The sealing industry has declined in value from approximately $40 million in 2003 to $1.5 million in 2011, largely due to declining export markets. “If we have strong markets here at home, local businesses will be better situated to develop markets around the world. And the one thing we know is that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians support the seal hunt,” Mitchelmore said.
- MHA visits GNP Crafts – Purchases Seal Skin Products (liveruralnl.com)