Transport Canada Changes Pose Problem for Fish Harvesters, FFAW's McCurdy says

February 6, 2009, 10:48 AM EST

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A series of regulatory changes under the Canada Shipping Act announced by Transport Canada are creating serious problems for Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters, CAW/FFAW President Earle McCurdy says.

Some of these changes, if not addressed immediately, have the potential to shut down portions of the fishing industry, he said.

The new Canada Shipping Act came into effect in July 2007. The federal government has begun implementing the new certification and training requirements of the Marine Personnel Regulations. But McCurdy said some requirements are ill-advised and impossible to comply with.

One change would require Mates on all vessels making multiple-day voyages to have a Fishing Master IV designation. In Newfoundland this season, McCurdy said, that would leave 130 vessels in the under-60-tonne fleet facing the possibility of having to tie up because they won't have a ticketed Mate aboard under the new regulations. That number will climb to more than 600, as the regulations are phased in over the next few years.

"From a practical point of view, a watch-keeping certificate would meet the needs of these vessels," McCurdy says. "There simply aren't enough people around with the required tickets, and the training institutions don't have the capacity to meet this kind of demand. We have a problem finding Mates for the 60 to 100-tonne fleet, never mind the smaller boats."

McCurdy stressed that everyone is in favour of safety training, but that regulations and requirements need to make sense, be realistic and achievable.

The Union has invited Transport Canada officials to the next meeting of the FFAW/CAW Inshore Council on February 17 to 18 to discuss the issue.

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