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Questions surround how GNP stands to benefit from EU free trade

Memorial University student Jack Daly presented information on the perceived impacts of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement on the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.
Memorial University student Jack Daly presented information on the perceived impacts of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement on the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. - Stephen Roberts

MUN graduate student's research finds mixed perception of opportunities and concerns

ST. ANTHONY, N.L. —

ST. ANTHONY, N.L. – Is the Great Northern Peninsula's (GNP) fishery ready to take advantage of free trade with Europe?
That appears to be the main question posed by research conducted by Memorial University graduate student Jack Daly.
Starting last summer, Daly interviewed 20 people from the GNP and political officials from St. John’s about the impact of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, on the region's fishery.
The main objective, said Daly, was to "contextualize CETA for the fisheries of the GNP."
He found locals saw greater opportunity to export to European markets with the removal of tariffs on fish products.
However, they were less optimistic about the province’s ability to capitalize on the new access.
“The tariff reduction is seen as necessary and good, but, at the same time, there’s concern around how much benefit we can get from that reduction with the current state of how much is allocated,” Daly told The Northern Pen.
With quota allocations for shellfish on a downward trajectory and groundfish levels not returning to anticipated levels, people feel there’s little gain from CETA if there isn’t more fish to catch.
“When looking at the community level of this agreement, I think one of the main findings is that, right now with limited resource access, particularly with the shellfish fishery but also with the groundfish fishery, which hasn’t really taken off yet, that kind of limits how much benefit you can get from this type of agreement,” said Daly. “With such limited resource access, it’s difficult to measure how beneficial this could be at this (early) stage. It doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial, but I think that’s one of the main findings.”
Daly’s report also shows concern around the phase-out of minimum processing requirements (MPRs).
“The idea is that we have the MPR to ensure the onshore benefits of the inshore fishery – that everything landed in the province has to be minimally processed,” he said. “The concern is that when it’s phased out, it implies that fish can be caught and then sent away for processing.”
Locals questioned whether the benefits from the tariff reduction and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund (a $325 million fund announced by the federal government, with $100 million earmarked for Newfoundland and Labrador) are enough to offset the work-loss that could be created by the MPR phase-out.
Daly presented this information during a session held at the College of the North Atlantic in St. Anthony on July 18. He hoped the session would allow community leaders to take the information and build upon the work he has started. Daly will also compile a report on his findings for the Harris Centre, before he completes his Masters degree in the fall.

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