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Thoughts of Warden Randy Jones on DFO's Decision for Local Fishery


The Warden of the MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent, Mr. Randy Jones, is not pleased with the recent decision of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to go ahead with the fishery on the Lower North Shore. Fishermen in Eastern Quebec were asking Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to postpone the fishing season to ensure workers and residents of small fishing towns aren't unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19.

CFBS obtained a copy of the email written on May 1, 2020 to Minister Jonatan Julien, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region, which was written by Warden Randy Jones, expressing his displeasure with the recent refusal of the request of the Association of fishermen of the Lower North Shore to close the fishing season for 2020 on the Lower North Shore territory.

In the email, Mr. Jones stated the following:

"I have just been informed that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has said no to the request of the Association of fishermen of the Lower North Shore to close the fishing for 2020 on our territory. I am insulted and completely disappointed with this decision.

Everyday, we see the Prime Minister of Canada in front of the cameras telling people how important it is to comply with government guidelines. The 2 meters distancing, to wash hands, and stay in isolation. It is the same thing for our Premier of Quebec. It's always the same message. The amount of people becoming infected continues to increase and our province has double the numbers with more population like Ontario. As of yesterday, 944 more cases. I know I'm not a genius, but there's something wrong with this picture.

We have been in isolation for almost two months and the fishing season will open and now no isolation with the boats from Newfoundland, the boats of Sept-Iles, of the Magdalen Islands, and all the other villages that will end up in Kegaska. We have been informed that just for unloading on the dock, they are going to have 27 people, not counting fishermen. In addition, Hydro Quebec is about to return with another 100 people to continue their work on electrical line. The population of this village will triple.

The Lower North Shore has 16 villages, and for all practical purposes, they are 16 CHSLD's. From Kegaska to Blanc Sablon, we are all an endangered population. And I sincerely believe that with the actions taken by our governments the last nails have just been put in our coffin.

Fisheries and Oceans and MAPAQ did not consider it important to consult us to find out if we were able to comply with the guidelines in place by the authorities. From Kegaska to Blanc Sablon, there is no dock that is able to give showers and toilet for fishermen. Not just one, but none of them. Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and MAPAQ, are all in the same boat and are too concerned about politics, rather than doing the right thing.

That Being said, for the safety of my population, I ask for an emergency meeting with our two Deputies, Our Minister of Regions, the Minister of MAPAQ, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. and our Doctor of Public Health, Dr. Trepanier. In addition, the director and president of the Associations of fishermen. It's really not right to endanger the lives of our people." - Email from Mr. Randy Jones, Mayor of Gros Mecatina and Warden of the MRC du Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent.

Speaking with Mr. Jones this morning, he informed me that he is in the process of having a meeting this afternoon with Marilène Gill, Vice-Chair on the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans, with Dyane Benoit, the Deputy Director General of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, with Marc Fortin, the President Director General of the CISSS de la Côte-Nord, and possibly Dr. Stéphane Trépanier, the Public Health expert. In this meeting, Mr. Jones hopes that they can try to find a solution to this pressing situation.

Mr. Jones said that this a serious health issue to the Lower North Shore people, "We are not ok to send our population out on the waters and fish in these conditions, then to return home and to possibly put their families in danger" he added.

CFBS will continue to follow this story, more details to come.

Abbygail Wellman

CFBS Journalist

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