This is day nine of the hunger strike by fisherman Richard Gillett, but there has been a development.
Gillett set up camp outside DFO in the White Hills the day before Good Friday to protest the state of the fishery and the federal government’s role in science and quota settings.
Gillett is vice-president of the upstart group Fish NL, which is headed by former MP Ryan Cleary.
He spoke with federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc late last night but did not hear what he wanted to hear. He says the minister offered him a meeting two weeks down the road, but nothing beyond that.
Meanwhile Fish-NL supporters are demonstrating with Gillett in the White Hills area, but had said they will not be blocking traffic.
Fishers, Province Feeling the Pinch, says Crocker
The minister of fisheries says parts of the industry are in a state of crisis. Steve Crocker was responding to statements by hunger striker Richard Gillett, whom is seeking several commitments from the federal minister of fisheries.
Crocker says he is in touch with Gillett every day, checking on his condition.
Crocker says fishermen in 3PS, which includes the south coast and Placentia Bay, are having very tough time of it, and fishery workers on the Northern Peninsula are totally reliant on shrimp, the quotas for which have been heavily cut. He says the entire province is feeling the pinch of reduced total allowable catches.
The quota has gone from about 35,000 tonnes to 7,000 tonnes over a two year period, and there are eight fish plants which process shrimp.
Unanimous Vote Decided Herring Fishery Opening Date: Decker
Meanwhile David Decker of the FFAW says it’s unfortunate for Gillett to say the decision to move the spring herring fishery in 3L to the fall was influenced by the union.
Decker says the opening date for that fishery was voted on by over 40 fisherman by secret ballot. He told VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly, 100 per cent of those who voted wanted to see that date moved to the fall. Decker says for Gillett or Cleary to say otherwise is totally false.
Decker says Gillett has a right to put forward his views, too, but says this is the way it happened.
Decker suggests what is happening in the fishery is reminiscent of what happened back in the 90s. He says the fishery is not dead, and says harvesters have another good year this year.