The tip of the Great Northern Peninsula (GNP) in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has undergone a large magnitude of social and economic change since the decline in the groundfish fishery in the early 1990s. The declining population trend, which is projected to continue in the next few decades, adds to the concern. The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) is seen as one area of opportunity for revitalizing the region, but it needs to be contextualized to suit the local interests. The EU is the largest importer of seafood in the world and CETA will offer an opportunity for the fisheries of Canada to take advantage of this. In order for the GNP to fully benefit from CETA, a comprehensive examination of the fisheries system is required. This includes an understanding of fisheries policy and management institutions, as well as the internal and external factors that affect how they function and perform. Any conflict between the free trade doctrine promoted in CETA and the goal of maintaining the integrity of local small-scale fisheries also needs to be investigated. This research explores ways the region can best utilize the change that CETA will bring, with an emphasis on equity between the small-scale fishers and larger entities. Assessing the compatibility of CETA’s policies with the values of the coastal communities of the Northern tip will allow the governance system of the region to promote its goals in an environment that is increasingly focused on global economic benefits rather than local ones.
The project has three main objectives. First, to document responses from various stakeholders to the policy initiatives coming into place under CETA. Second, to evaluate how well the goals of CETA align with preservation of the small-scale fisheries in the Northern tip. And third, to find ways that the region can best utilize the change that CETA will bring. The viability of the fisheries of the region, the impact of CETA, and the governance of the region with a push for regional government are the pillars that this research will analyze in a holistic manner that does not view these issues as separate but rather innately connected. The strong sense of place of the GNP and pride in its social fabric paired with its interest to be more economically sustainable necessitates this research.
The research methods used in this project will be planned and prepared in a way that ensures robust data collection. The methods will include document analysis, a governability assessment, and participant interviews. There are many areas of policy and governance to look into that affect fisheries including the removal of the minimum processing requirement, harmonized sanitary guidelines, removal of tariffs, existing port infrastructure, and the Canadian government’s Atlantic Fisheries Fund. The paper produced from this initiative will reflect the objectives of the project as well as provide possible actions that can be taken by actors that govern the region to increase its economic viability under the new terms of CETA.
The objectives of this project align with, and will contribute to two other research initiatives I am working with. Too Big to Ignore is a global partnership for small-scale fisheries research. I will also be working under the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) which is a research collaboration focused on the Northwest Atlantic and Canadian Arctic Gateway. I am involved in one aspect of OFI research focusing on fisheries and governance in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the pursuance of my Master’s degree.