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FFAW-Unifor Meet With DFO Deputy Minister in St. John's

August 1, 2023

Yesterday, July 31st, FFAW-Unifor met with DFO Deputy Minister Annette Gibbons while she was in St. John’s. FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty, Inshore Council Vice-President Tony Doyle, and Courtney Langille, Government Relations and Campaigns, attended to represent the Union and provide an update.

The Deputy Minister began the meeting by indicating that she was interested in hearing about how the season has progressed for NL, acknowledging that it has been a very challenging year for harvesters, especially those engaged in the snow crab fishery. Pretty was quick to bring focus to the Union’s disappointment on DFO’s announcement of a rollover for northern cod this year, which came as surprise in response to the request from harvesters for an increase that would have been aligned with the health of the stock as well as opportunities for the processing sector.

Both harvesting and processing sectors were hopeful for a modest increase this year, and this included support from provincial Members of Parliament. The Union emphasized that a small increase would have gone a long way, and despite the absence of RV survey data from DFO, there was significant information provided from harvesters.

Moving forward, the Deputy Minister stated that vessels or partnerships are needed to ensure dedication to annual data collection, and FFAW indicated that the Union can actualize both of those needs, referencing the success of the post-season snow crab survey in working collaboratively with professional fish harvesters.

Pretty raised the issue of commercializing Unit 1 Redfish and the need for an urgent transition for the struggling shrimp fleet.

Lastly, FFAW spoke of the importance for upholding Owner-Operator legislation and the need for a strong statement from DFO on how this celebrated legislation is being effectively upheld. Illegal controlling agreements remain prevalent despite legislation being enshrined in 2021, which serves to deepen corporate concentration and the loss of independent fisheries. Formal charges brought against corporate entities have yet to be seen in Canada for violation of the policy, and while there is perspective into the scope of resources required to do so, there is also the need for policy to be enforced in practice as well as increased communication with effected provinces and fisheries.

FFAW appreciated the Deputy Minister’s engagement in the matters discussed in a limited time block, and look forward to continuing the conversation with the newly appointed Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, in the near future.