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Fish Harvesters Celebrate Market Freedom, Increased Competition 

March 22, 2024

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Fish harvesters around Newfoundland and Labrador are celebrating the power of collective action today with important policy changes that will improve market access in the contentious industry.

Fish harvesters have been protesting at government landmarks province-wide this week, with the largest crowd gathering outside of the Confederation Building in St. John’s demanding ‘free enterprise.’ Specifically, harvesters have been successful in getting the government’s commitment to allow applications from outside buyers in all species, to undertake an independent review of the provincial licensing policy in the province, as well as to implement a Committee that will monitor capacity levels during the crab season. 

“Today is a victory for the people of our province. What has been accomplished by the power of collective action is no small feat. This is a great first step in restoring balance, as harvesters take back control and increase competition in the market,” says Greg Pretty, FFAW-Unifor President. “Plant workers need successful fish harvesters if there’s going to be a future in this industry,” Pretty says. 

“I am ecstatic with the agreement we achieved here today and want to thank everyone involved,” says fish harvester John Efford. “Significant effort went into considering all aspects of the changes we were asking for and the potential consequences on plant workers. Again and again, it was clear that this is going to be better. What we achieved here today will mean a monumental positive change for the future of our fishery.”

“Change is never easy, and it’s easy to criticize people from afar. I want to thank Minister Elvis Loveless, Premier Andrew Furey, and all the elected officials who stepped up this week to make change happen. This has been a very long time coming, and at the end of it all we’ve built a stronger relationship with the provincial government to achieve the goals of our members,” says Secretary-Treasurer Jason Spingle. 

The provincial government has agreed to provide the agreement in writing, detailing all of the agreed upon policy changes. 

“Today is a victory for Newfoundland and Labrador, and tonight we will celebrate the success of collective action and standing up for what is right. Next week, we get right back to business and wrap up negotiations for snow crab,” concludes Pretty.