N.L. organization working to put local fish on Atlantic Canadian's plates
TORONTO -- A non-profit group in Newfoundland and Labrador is advocating to change provincial policy so that more Atlantic Canadians are eating fish caught off their shores, rather than buying from suppliers abroad.
Kimberly Orren, co-founder of Fishing for Success, told NTV News that groups have been lobbying for years to make it easier for Canadians to purchase local seafood, much as they do in fishing ports in cities such as Venice and Barcelona.
"Let's talk about eating more local fish," Orren said. "I think there is a really important community element to eating locally, to knowing where your food is coming from."
Supporting local is something Orren has been teaching for years at Fishing for Success -- a non-profit social enterprise group dedicated to celebrating Newfoundland’s traditional fishing knowledge and culture.
While Fishing for Success is known for taking people out on the water to learn about fish and fishing, Orren said the group's focus has shifted to Canada's seafood supply.
In recent years, the Newfoundland government loosened legislation allowing Canadian fishermen to sell some fish from their wharves.
However, Orren says barriers such as supermarket prices and geography remain.
"We'd like to see those barriers taken down to provide local people with greater access to local fish and provide fishermen with a greater improved income too," Orren said.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the cost of purchasing fish caught in Canadian waters was often too expensive for the average consumer, with most products being imported from China.
However, with the pandemic putting pressure on conventional food supply chains and fisheries facing massive financial shortfalls, there is a renewed push to cut the costs of angling.
Kerri Claire Neil, the chair of Social Justice Co-op NL, told NTV News that the provincial government needs to do more for its fishing sector.
"I get the sense that the provincial government does not care about our fishery," Neil said.
"It seems like they think that it’s a real commercial enterprise that's about taking out as much money as they can in the short term and isn't really thinking about the long-term importance of feeding our population."
The group is pushing for a more sustainable fishery based on food security. Orren said the province's food security was challenged earlier this year during a record-breaking snowstorm that stalled food shipments, and has once again impacted during the pandemic.
"Where are we going to get our protein?" Orren said, adding that the answer is simple for those who live on the coast.
"Back to the sea."
With a report from NTV News' Leila Beaudoin