FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, April 14th, 2023 — Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is circulating a province-wide petition calling on the provincial government to undertake public consultations on the obstacles to becoming an inshore enterprise owner.
Ryan Everard of Petty Harbour (seen here in this Telegram photo from April 9, 2011) is a third-generation fisherman who's fished every summer since 1999, has all the credits and time on the water to take over his father's inshore enterprise, but doesn't meet the qualifying criteria. Find the petition here.
“Anyone can fish, but not anyone can become a licensed small-boat owner-operator,” says Pam Patten, President of SEA-NL, and a Fortune-based inshore owner-operator.
“The time and cost of acquiring a fishing enterprise is out of reach for too many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and the inshore fleet and rural communities are fading faster because of it.”
The paper petition calls on the provincial government to undertake province-wide consultations on the impediments to becoming an inshore enterprise owner.
The public meetings would coincide with a review of the Professional Fish Harvesters Act (1997). The act governs the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board (PFHCB), the governing body over professionalization in this province's inshore fishery,
The process to become a licensed inshore enterprise owner-operator takes five years, during which time a perspective skipper must complete certain courses, and earn a minimum amount of income from the fishery. If they work full-time outside the fishery over the five-year period they're disqualified.
Fishermen have complained for years that the certification criteria are too stringent, and that it is too difficult to pass on fishing licenses within families. Another issue is the financing of an inshore enterprise, which can easily reach $500,000 on the northeast coast.
“I’m a third-generation fisherman who’s fished every summer since 1999, and I have all the required credits and time on the water to qualify to take over my father’s fishing enterprise, but I still do not meet the qualifying criteria,” says Ryan Everard, a 42-year-old father of two from Petty Harbour. “There’s something wrong with that picture.”
Provincial Fisheries Minister Derrick Bragg denied a SEA-NL request last year for a review of the qualifying criteria, although approved some changes recommended by the PFHCB itself without consulting inshore harvesters.
According to the PFHCB, of the 4,921 Level II-certified fishermen in this province eligible as of Dec. 31st last year to purchase/operate inshore enterprises, 2,131 or 43% do not own one.
At the same time, according to DFO since 1997 when the PFHCB was created the number of licensed fishermen in the province has dropped by 74% from 13,294 to 3,453 today, and destined to fall by another 15% as non-core licenses (which cannot be sold or transferred) drop off.
Some fishermen have been reluctant to speak out publicly about the PFHCB and certification criteria, fearing it will negatively impact their applications for accreditation.
The House of Assembly only accepts paper petitions, so please print off, sign, and circulate. Then mail back to SEA-NL at the address provided.
Executive Director, SEA-NL
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit sea-nl.ca to join.