Hiram Coombs, a fish harvester from Reef’s Harbour, holds a protest sign durign the rally in Port au Choix..” Submitted photo
The fire department had to be called in at one point to manage the situation, but a fire is still ongoing. Local RCMP officers are also standing by to monitor the protest.
According to Mailman, the protest has nonetheless thus far been peaceful.
Despite the attempt to command attention with the fiery display, Mailman feels there is no one present, representing DFO, any level of government, or Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW), to answer questions.
“Nobody showed up, we have absolutely nobody to talk to,” she said. “We have no representation whatsoever, starting with our municipal government, our provincial government – I don’t even know if we elected (an MHA) here – and then we got nobody from the federal department. Then we pay out all kinds of money – or have in the past, we hope it’s coming to an end – to the FFAW. Where are they?”
Mailman expressed her frustration with what she feels is a lack of representation for harvesters.
“We got nobody to represent us, whatsoever,” she continued. “If we did, we wouldn’t have anybody here on this picket line today. We’d have our spokesperson from our provincial government or our federal government or our union doing the talking for us. Instead of that, we have to take matters into our hands to try to get recognized, to try to survive.”
Mailman later said she spoke with a representative of Gudie Hutchings, Long Range Mountains MP, via phone.
One of the things Mailman says harvesters want to see is the rules of adjacency applied for the fishery. They feel that vessels from away can take advantage of the resources of Newfoundland and Labrador waters.
They want this to stop.
“All we’re asking for is the 4R lines to be put back (boundaries to be re-instituted to keep out non-NL harvesters) and adjacency to the resources,” said Mailman. “Boats can come across from Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, come from where they like. And what do we do? We stand on the wharf and wave goodbye to them.”