Canadian Seafood Boycott IS Hurting Newfoundland

The international boycott of Canadian seafood products is having an incredible effect on the sales of seafood products from Canada and especially from Newfoundland.

The 2006 Newfoundland and Labrador fishery has declined in production value by over $100 million dollars over the last year.

The industry has suffered an unprecedented loss in seafood sales of over $300 million over the last two years. According to the St. John's Telegram the fishing industry which was worth $1.1 billion in 2004 is now worth only $800 million and sales continue to decline.

According to Newfoundland fishermen, 2006 is the worst year that any of them can remember. The losses are being felt primarily in the crab and shrimp extraction industries.

Newfoundland Provincial Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout has stated that crab landings have remained consistent over the last few years which means that the crab are being caught but not sold for the prices previously received.

The fishermen are blaming European tariffs and the rising Canadian dollar. The one thing the fishermen are not talking about is the effect of the international boycott of Canadian seafood because of their annual slaughter of seals.

The strategy of the Newfoundland fishing industry is to downplay the effect of the boycott. However, an indication that the boycott is a real threat can be found is this quote from the Fisheries Minister Tom Rideout.

"We have to move outside Boston - the U.S. will always be important, but we need different market niches," he said. "The Russian market is a prime example of what is possible. All of our major competitors are there, and if we are not there we will be left behind."

Translation, they are not boycotting our fish in Russia.

Seal defenders need to urge the European Parliament to continue their 20% tariff on shrimp in addition to passing a motion to ban all seal products.

"The only language the Newfoundland fishing industry understands is economics," said Captain Paul Watson. "We need to escalate the boycott with the recruitment of more restaurants, wholesalers, and retailers. We need to continue to pressure the Red Lobster chain to not purchase Canadian fish products and we need to continue to let Canada and Newfoundland know that we are never going away and that we will fight to end the obscenity of sealing no matter how long it takes or how stubborn the opposition is."

Last month, Canadian Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn declared war on seal defenders.

It is a war he is losing by the looks of the latest economic state of affairs of the Newfoundland fishing industry.