This month marks the expiry of a federal/provincial/company agreement that has provided millions of pounds of fish annually for Ocean Choice International, with minimal local processing content in return. Today in the House of Assembly’s Question Period, NDP House Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi) tried to get answers on government’s plans for these quotas once the agreement expires.
“In December of 2007, the Provincial Government announced it had finalized a nine year agreement with Ocean Choice International aimed at ensuring, among other things, that the former FPI ground fish quotas totaling millions of pounds of fish would be landed in the province for processing,” Michael said.
“I ask the Premier to report to the House on the extent to which OCI complied with its commitments, and to tell the House what will happen to these quotas now that the agreement is about to expire.”
That original agreement was altered when OCI closed one Burin Peninsula fish plant, promising there would be jobs in another one. “When OCI closed the doors on its Marystown fish plant, it entered into a commitment with the Provincial Government to provide a minimum of 110 full time processing positions for a minimum of five years in the Company’s Fortune facility,” Michael said.
“I ask the Minister has OCI in fact provided 110 full time jobs in the Fortune plant on an ongoing basis since that agreement was signed?” Michael says government should require OCI to provide enforceable commitments for future employment in the processing of groundfish before renewing the Company’s access to the valuable quotas.