FFAW-Unifor Discuss Way Forward for Snow Crab with Minister Bragg; Request to Meet with Premier and Minister Davis
This evening, April 10th, FFAW-Unifor had an urgent call with Minister Derrick Bragg to discuss the current predicament facing the industry as a direct result of the Panel’s price decision for snow crab, $2.20 per pound. The consequences locally in our province means the normally economically sustainable snow crab fishery is delayed and its fate this year is unknown. FFAW President Greg Pretty and Courtney Langille, Government Relations, were on the call for FFAW, and attending from the Minister’s office were Deputy Minister Jamie Chippett, and Executive Assistant Dana English.
Pretty immediately set the tone for the call by affirming that harvesters are resolved not to fish for the $2.20 price, and this is not a strike, this is a decision based on their economic position. The complete consensus from Crab Chairs that have been consulted steadily since the Panel’s decision was announced early evening April 6th, is that $2.20 is not an operational price for enterprises and a complete economic disaster.
Minister Bragg insisted that he must approach the Minister of Labour to determine how provincial government can legally navigate the collective agreement. He explained that the legislative process with an arbitrator brought forward last year was the best solution they could offer for remodelling. However, the process is proving to be worse after remodelling with the starting price for snow crab a non-starter for the fishery. On this, Pretty requested a meeting with the Premier as well as Minister Davis to make the position of our members known. Further, it is understood that the Panel’s decision was not unanimous, and as such, both parties should be called together with the province to see if there is like-mindedness. Given the magnitude of the issue, and that we are all in a place where we have never been before, open communication is critical for exploring merit in a delayed fishery or another alternative agreed on by both sectors and supported by government.
With Canada’s second largest snow crab fishery in New Brunswick and PEI scheduled to launch tomorrow, the potential pressures for crab being brought in other provinces was impressed upon the Minister, who acknowledged the same concerns. It was made clear to the Minister that FFAW is motivated to work towards a resolution in a professional manner, and provincial government as a regulatory body has a distinct role. While the inventory surplus is showing movement through the US market, too much uncertainty remains for an approach to not be actioned immediately.
It was agreed by everyone on the call that there is no apparent easy answer, and all aspects must be considered for parties to find a solution. Minister Bragg committed to providing a response on our requests to facilitate meetings with the Premier and the Minister of Labour tomorrow, April 11th.
FFAW-Unifor will update members promptly as soon as information is available.